It was exactly four months ago Saturday that former U.S. District Judge Barbara S. Jones overturned Ray Rice’s indefinite suspension levied by the NFL on the same day the sickening video that changed everything was released.
And that video is the biggest reason why the former Ravens running back reportedly hasn’t received as much as a visit or even a tryout with another team despite the many who have offered their endorsements for him around the league. Various Ravens officials and players have expressed hopes of Rice receiving another chance while former Baltimore assistants such as Indianapolis head coach Chuck Pagano and Detroit head coach Jim Caldwell — men who know Rice better than most and who both had a need at running back this offseason — have echoed that sentiment.
Nearly everyone in the NFL who knows Rice wants him to receive another chance, but no one wants to be the one to provide it.
The 2008 second-round pick remains unsigned while the likes of Trent Richardson — along with his train wreck of a career as a former No. 3 overall pick in 2012 — and Darren McFadden — and his 3.3 yards per carry average over the last three seasons — have found new homes in free agency. Make no mistake, Rice’s 3.1 yards per carry average in 2013 is a real factor contributing to his frigid market, but even several running backs you’d describe as “has-beens” or “never-weres” have received work on the open market as the calendar turns to April this coming week.
Yes, the video is what distinguishes Rice from Greg Hardy and Ray McDonald, who both landed elsewhere despite their own dark clouds of domestic violence hanging over their heads. Opinions vary on whether any of the aforementioned men deserve second chances in the NFL, but it’s clear a different standard has been attached to the 28-year-old running back.
The Ravens were willing to stick by Rice until the public relations nightmare of a second video surfaced on Sept. 8, and it’s that visual of the heinous act that makes him unemployable while others who’ve committed — or who have been accused of committing — similar acts have received more of a pass. Fair or not, it appears to be reality for Rice, who continues to wait for his second chance.
If no team signs Rice soon, his chances wouldn’t appear to improve with the upcoming draft that includes a deep group of quality running backs who are several years younger and possess more upside.
Four months after an arbitrator ruled in Rice’s favor and forced his reinstatement, the question is no longer whether he should receive another chance. Everyone has his or her own opinion on that matter that’s unlikely to change at this point.
But when those who know Rice best won’t even give the three-time Pro Bowl selection a second chance, you must seriously wonder if it will ever happen.