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Tuesday’s Morning Mashup: NFL VP defends league’s handling of Ray Rice case

07.29.14 at 8:07 am ET

Welcome to Tuesday’s Morning Mashup. For the latest news, start at our home page or click here for the top stories from our news wire.

MLB: Blue Jays at Red Sox, 7:10 p.m. (NESN; WEEI-FM)
MLB: Yankees at Rangers, 8 p.m. (FS1)
MLB: Rockies at Cubs, 8 p.m. (WGN)
MLB Pirates at Giants, 10:15 p.m. (MLB Network)
WNBA: Connecticut Sun at Atlanta Dream, noon (NBA TV)
WNBA: Chicago Sky at San Antonio Silver Stars, 8 p.m. (ESPN)
WNBA: Los Angeles Sparks at Phoenix Mercury, 10 p.m. (ESPN)
Soccer: Champions Cup, Manchester United vs. Inter Milan, 6:30 p.m. (NBCSN)


— The NFL has come under heavy criticism for being too light on Ravens running back Ray Rice, who was suspended two games after being arrested for allegedly striking his then-fiancee and knocking her unconscious while they were in an elevator in Atlantic City. On Monday, NFL senior vice president of labor policy Adolpho Birch attempted to explain and defend the league’s ruling.

“The discipline that was taken by the NFL is the only discipline that occurred, with respect to Mr. Rice, in this case,” Birch said in an interview on ESPN Radio’s “Mike and Mike,” referring to Rice’s acceptance into a pretrial intervention program that will allow him to avoid a trial. “I think that, were he not an NFL player, I don’t know that he would be able to receive any punishment from any other source.

“On balance, we reviewed all the materials, listened to the persons we listened to, took the input of the Players Association. When we looked on balance at all of that, we believe that discipline we issued is appropriate. It is multiple games and hundreds of thousands of dollars. I think that’s fair to say that doesn’t reflect that you condone the behavior. I think we can put that to rest.”

MASHUP POLL: Was Ray Rice's two-game suspension fair?

  • He should have received a longer suspension based on the arrest and video (93%, 409 Votes)
  • Two games is reasonable based on the information we have (4%, 19 Votes)
  • He should not have been suspended at all, as he was not convicted of anything (2%, 10 Votes)

Total Voters: 438

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Rice reportedly will accept the two-game suspension and three-game fine that goes along with it, and Birch insists the penalty sends a strong message to other players.

“Listen, I think if you are any player and you think that based on this decision that it’s OK to go out and commit that kind of conduct, I think that is something that I would suggest to you that no player is going to go out and do that,” Birch said. “So in terms of sending a message about what the league stands for, we’ve done that. We can talk about the degree of discipline, we can talk about whether or not third parties need to be involved. I would suggest to you that a third party has been involved in this matter and that was the court that reviewed it, the prosecutor that reviewed it.

“But if it is a question about what the principle of the league is and what standards we stand by, that cannot be questioned. I think it is absolutely clear to all involved that the NFL does not condone domestic violence in any way and will not tolerate it in our league. I don’t know how you can reach a conclusion other than that although I certainly respect the opinion.”

— Meanwhile, ESPN personality Stephen A. Smith apologized Monday for his comments regarding the Rice situation, calling them “the most egregious of my career” during a taped segment on “First Take.”

“My words came across that it is somehow a woman’s fault. This was not my intent; it is not what I was trying to say. Yet the failure to clearly articulate something different lies squarely on my shoulders,” Smith said.

On Friday Smith said that domestic violence is never the answer but added, “We also have to make sure that we learn as much as we can about elements of provocation. Not that there’s real provocation, but the elements of provocation, you’ve got to make sure that you address them. because we’ve got to do is do what we can to try to prevent the situation from happening in any way.”

Smith was heavily criticized, most notably by fellow ESPN host Michelle Beadle. The network released a statement Monday that said:

“We will continue to have constructive dialogue on this important topic. Stephen’s comments last Friday do not reflect our company’s point of view. As his apology demonstrates, he recognized his mistakes and has a deeper appreciation of our company values.”

— According to a report out of Arizona, Suns forward P.J. Tucker was arrested in May for “super extreme” DUI after registering a .222 blood-alcohol level.

A Scottsdale police officer indicated Tucker drove slowly through a stop sign shortly after midnight near a popular downtown nightlife area and then drove erratically. Tucker’s breath, speech and eyes indicated he was impaired, and tests confirmed it.

A super extreme DUI carries a minimum 45-day jail sentence.

The Suns reportedly were aware of the arrest when they signed Tucker to a three-year, $16.5 million contract last week. Tucker averaged 9.4 points and 6.5 rebounds last season while playing solid defense.

ON THIS DAY TRIVIA (answer below): On July 29, 1988, the Red Sox traded Brady Anderson and Curt Schilling to the Orioles for which player?

QUOTE OF THE DAY: “This is going to be a good thing for the city, for the league for my family and for all of us. Come see the Clippers next year.” Shelly Sterling, after winning her court case against Donald Sterling and getting the OK to complete the sale of the Clippers

STAT OF THE DAY: 2 — Outs recorded by Red Sox reliever Felix Doubront after facing 10 batters in Monday’s 14-1 loss to the Blue Jays

‘NET RESULTS (mobile users, check the website to see the videos): Braves shortstop Andrelton Simmons adjust to a bad break on a one-hopper by barehanding the ball and firing it to first to beat Will Venable of the Padres.

Jeff Baker delivers a shot to the base of the fence in left field to give the Marlins a 7-6 victory over the Nationals in the bottom of the ninth inning.

Timberwolves rookie Zach LaVine shows off his hops at the Seattle Pro-Am dunk contest.

TRIVIA ANSWER: Pitcher Mike Boddicker

SOOTHING SOUNDS: Geddy Lee of Rush was born on this day in 1953.

Read More: P.J. Tucker, Ray Rice, Stephen A. Smith,