Baltimore Ravens running back Ray Rice was trending on Twitter Wednesday afternoon for all the wrong reasons. In an eight-hour period, Rice's image suffered severe damage -- the kind from which it might never recover.
It was the result of two devastating media developments. It started with TMZ releasing video from an Atlantic City casino early in the day, and was followed by publication of a summons saying that Rice hit his fiancee with his hand "rendering her unconscious" at the casino Saturday night.
The TMZ video, which Rice's attorney confirmed as authentic but incomplete, showed Rice and his fiancee trying to exit an elevator at the casino. She looks to be unconscious and falls to the floor with her feet still in the elevator, while he tries to drag her out into the hallway. It's not a pretty picture.
ESPN ended a "Sports Center" report during the 6 p.m. hour with a freeze frame of Rice standing over his fiancee as she lay on the floor of the elevator. The headline underneath said, "Ray Rice knocked fiancee out."
The Twitter stream was huge and brutal by dinnertime Wednesday.
A very brief sample:
Kevin Walker @notreallyjewish That video of Ray Rice dragging his fiancee out of the elevator..... I have no words.
Nathaniel @Mdnate I had no idea Ray Rice had a little Chris Brown in him.
Dennis David @unbiased610 Ray Rice is classless, that was a woman he was dragging, not a linebacker.
Princess Urrrka @ErrikaThomas Ray Rice: another fine example of why the Ravens are trash.
redsreds1 @ravishlymarked Omg did Ray Rice really drag his fiancé like that!?!? ... he is no longer my hero
Michael McQuaid @michaelmcquaid1 No longer have any respect for ray rice
Neither lawyer-talk about letting "justice" take its course nor Ravens spin is likely to make those grainy images from that security camera go away. Those images of Rice have gone global.
This is the second time in six months that TMZ has broken stories about Ravens behaving badly. Remember Bryant McKinnie, Jacoby Jones, Sweet Pea and the "party bus" in DC?
The Ravens have to be TMZ's favorite team. And I don't think there is anything humorous about that.