It wasn’t long ago that Ray Rice was one of the top running backs in the NFL.
Rice, once the feature back for the Baltimore Ravens, posted 6,180 yards in six seasons in Baltimore to go along with 37 touchdowns. It’s safe to say that at the pace he was running and the numbers he was posting, Rice was on track for a potential run for Canton and the Pro Football Hall of Fame when all was said and done.
But that was before Feb. 15, 2014, a day when Rice’s actions would forever send his career and public image into peril.
On that day Rice and Janay Palmer, Rice’s then-fiancée and now wife, were on their way into an elevator at the Revel Hotel and Casino in Atlantic City when they became involved in a heated argument with each other. As they entered the elevator Rice struck Palmer first, is then struck back by Palmer, only to finish her off with a knockout blow that was seen all over the news and Internet.
Nov 5, 2014; New York, NY, USA; Suspended NFL running back Ray Rice (left) arrives with his wife, Janay Rice for his appeal hearing on his indefinite suspension from the NFL. Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY
The video was appalling. Rice, a large man compared to Palmer, crossed the line when striking his fiancée and a woman at that. It’s safe to say the NFL has seen its share of domestic violence through the years from some of their alumni, but the Rice incident came with shocking video that shook the NFL and society as a whole as it brought the subject of domestic violence to the forefront of the social scope.
Rice was ultimately issued an indefinite suspension by the NFL, and was shunned to the depths of ambiguity as the Ravens and NFL alike distanced themselves from the once bright star.
But this is America, the home of second chances.
Now, more than a year later, Rice has been reinstated by the NFL and is again looking for work and the chance to redeem himself on and off the field. As rumors swirl of teams that may or may not bid for his services, the Cleveland Browns have been mentioned as a possible suitor for the embattled running back.
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The Browns currently boast a backfield with Isaiah Crowell, Terrance West, Glen Winston and Duke Johnson as the four backs vying for playing time in the backfield. With four young backs at their disposal, it’s hard to make the case for the Browns to go out and sign a six-year veteran who hasn’t played in a game since 2013. Couple that with the fact that Rice carries the baggage of a checkered past and it’s hard to imagine the Browns taking the risk on Rice.
Not to mention head coach Mike Pettine’s comments from Sept. 8, 2014, after seeing the video of Rice hitting his fiancée. Pettine deemed it, “Deeply disturbing, especially as a father that has two daughters. There’s just no place for that behavior in our society.”
Pettine went on to say that it would also be tough to coach Rice after watching him hit a woman.
If I’m general manager Ray Farmer and Pettine, I’m steering clear of Rice and the baggage he brings to the team. The negative PR it would bring and the spectacle of embracing such an enigmatic player is something the Browns don’t need to be a part of.
Though in life we all deserve a second chance, the Browns are not in the position to take on the task of rehabilitating Rice or his career at this time.
Or ever, really.
What would your reaction be if the Browns brought Ray Rice to training camp?