Rush Limbaugh hit on the heart of the matter yesterday when he said the outrage over the Ray Rice videotape proves that feminism is "artificial." The bottom line is when we see a woman get punched, we see it differently than a man getting punched. Thus, proof that men and women are not the same...they are different in the eyes of all human beings.
This is what I believe happened with the NFL. They knew what happened with Ray Rice and they may have seen the video beforehand, but once the video went public, they knew what the reaction would be. Forget the feminism malarkey, they knew people would be outraged at seeing a woman get her clocked cleaned. If it had been a guy, we'd still be outraged but not in the same way. Despite what our pop culture tries to dictate, you can't change baser instincts. Women are the vessel of the species and we revere them. You don't hit a woman if you are a civilized man. Men hitting men has a lot of extenuating circumstances (especially if it's over a woman), but hitting a woman, not so much.
The NFL brass knows this and that's why they panicked and handed down the indefinite ban of Ray Rice. The release of the video to the general public screwed up their initial plan to just ban Rice for two games to protect a talented player from having his career destroyed and the Baltimore Ravens season from being ruined. Let's face it, there are a lot of Ray Rice's in the NFL. "Protect the Shield" also means don't ban the NFL out of existence. This is the quandary the league faces.
So that's what I believe happened. And now the NFL is trying to figure out how to explain themselves without resorting to the cold, hard truth.