It was time to stop looking at Roger Goodell and start taking aim at the Baltimore Ravens when it came to Ray Rice and domestic violence.
And Steve Bisciotti knew it.
The Ravens and their owner finally terminated the running back's contract Monday afternoon after the emergence of a violent video plainly showing Rice punching his then-fiancee and now wife, Janay Palmer, in an Atlantic City casino elevator.
The NFL commissioner, of course, has already made his decision on Rice and as specious as it may have been, he had already been outed as a weak and ineffectual leader with a questionable moral compass.
Goodell's recent 180 from his punishment of Rice wasn't so much an admission of being wrong as both he and certain media members spun it, it was a reaction to the general public's disdain of his original declaration.
Sort of an "I'm sorry you're not educated enough to understand the intricacies of my job," not an "I made a mistake and should have given Rice a stiffer suspension."
That tact seemed to calm the masses until TMZ.com released video of the actual incident on Monday which shows Rice hurling a left-handed punch at Palmer, a blow which knocked her out cold.
The original surveillance video released by the same celebrity gossip website in February only revealed the aftermath of the incident, with Rice dragging an unconscious Palmer out of the elevator.
The video released in the early morning hours Monday shows Rice and Palmer entering the elevator at the now-closed Revel Resort. The two are standing next to each other before a minor shove. Rice then moves away and Palmer rushes toward him before he reacts with a quick left-handed blow that he is lucky didn't kill her considering how powerful Rice is.
The former Pro Bowl selection avoided prosecution after he was arrested in February and charged with simple assault-domestic violence before the NFL handed out its laughably light two-game penalty for a violation of the league's personal-conduct policy.
The length of the suspension drew an immediate and harsh public backlash and prompted Goodell to amend the league's policy on domestic violence issues, making first-time offenders face a six-game suspension and threatening a lifetime ban (in reality a one-year banishment with the opportunity to be reinstated) after a second such offense.
NFL spokesman Greg Aiello had the toughest job on Monday, saying the league did not have prior access to this video.
"We requested from law enforcement any and all information about the incident, including the video from inside the elevator," Aiello said. "That video was not made available to us and no one in our office has seen it until today."
It was a classic plausible deniability defense and a shaky one at that considering how many plugged-in people populate the NFL's security apparatus. In fact, considering the huge budget and all the ex-FBI personnel the league has at its disposal, if no one of substance at 280 Park Avenue saw the video before Monday, it was because they didn't want to see it.
They were, however, very aware of the tape's existence. Forget the fact that commons sense says every inch of any casino is covered by video equipment, I was told of the tape's existence back in March by someone in the Atlantic City media and it was somewhat common knowledge that the prosecutor possessed what was described to me as "explosive evidence."
Leaders in any aspect of life face very difficult decisions on a daily basis.
When true power is involved, however, the decisions they make are magnified and debated by a plethora of Monday morning quarterbacks with the benefit of hindsight.
Goodell certainly made a mistake when he originally addressed the Rice issue, but the Ravens, who stuck by their embattled star, made the bigger one, only acting once it was clear a tipping point was reached.
Remember, veteran Ravens PR man Kevin Byrne penned a 1,200-word piece in defense of Rice and then had someone in his department tweet out Janay Rice's apology for her part in the incident.
Once the video hit, though, it was over for Rice.
Scott Fujita, a former linebacker and vice president of the NFLPA's executive committee, expressed the growing mob mentality in tweeting: "I'm glad no one this morning seems to care about yesterday's games. This piece of (expletive) needs to be out of the league. Period."
Broncos defensive tackle Terrance Knighton seconded that: "That man should be thrown out the nfl and thrown into jail," Knighton wrote. "Shame on those deciding his punishment."
The Ravens could have been proactive. Instead they reacted only when the writing was in the wall.
The NFL itself soon followed in a cowardly fashion with Aiello tweeting an indefinite suspension over 10 hours after the video hit the web.
"Roger Goodell has announced that based on new video evidence that became available today he has indefinitely suspended Ray Rice," Aiello wrote.
So what took so long?
Neither the Ravens nor the league wanted to set Rice adrift. He was only cut loose after it became clear there was no other course of action, a sacrifice to the 24-hour news cycle and a public seeking a scapegoat for a significant social issue with roots extended far past the NFL.