In an awkward mea culpa he said:
“One thing I can say is that YOU KNOW sometimes in life, you will fail YOU KNOW. But I won’t call myself a failure. Failure is not getting knocked down; it’s not getting up.”
That’s exactly how he said it. It’s about 1:55 into the video that’s part of a transcript put together that day by the Baltimore Sun newspaper.
News coverage was vast. But that day a word crept into the statement (a problem)–and the two “you know” fillers were taken out (not a problem). Reports from 23 May by numerous outlets (including Reuters and Fox Sports, for instance) added a word, changing the last clause from “it’s not getting up” to “it’s not getting back up” [emphasis added].
I know. It really doesn’t change the meaning. One trouble, however, is that the added “back” lingers. Articles posted online by Vanity Fair and Mother Jones on 8 September include the added word. That’s too bad because it’s easy enough to check the transcript and compare it to the video of the news conference. Takes a couple of minutes. But, for some reason, many journalists assume a quote is accurate and aren’t particularly interest in checking the accuracy and context. Even when a simple Google search reveals variations and a source of accuracy is available.
For those keeping score at home, such a Google search indicates that the accurate version is still way ahead in references. That’s good. But the wrong one remains on the field of play. Comparing two Google searches indicates the tally, showing the accurate rendering with about 78 percent of the reference:
13,300 hits: For a search that included the phrases “ray rice” “not getting knocked down” “not getting up”.
3,800 hits: For a search that included the phrases “ray rice” “not getting knocked down” “not getting back up”.
By the way, Rice’s comment echoes a statement often attributed to coaching quote-magnet Vince Lombardi. It often appears something like this:
“It’s not whether you get knocked down; it’s whether you get up.”
Surely that principle has been hollared many times by many football coaches. Was it drilled so deeply into Rice’s brain that he didn’t realize that the “knocked down” reference was totally inappropriate for a news conference dealing with the events that led to the KO of his fiancee?