Tag Archive | "Ray Rice"

Series of unfortunate events led to Ravens’ 2015 cap woes

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Series of unfortunate events led to Ravens’ 2015 cap woes

Posted on 09 March 2015 by Luke Jones

With free agency set to officially begin on Tuesday, the Ravens find themselves in a familiar position of lacking salary-cap space.

It’s the cost of doing business when you draft well and strive to keep as many of your own young players as you can. That’s the proven method for sustained success compared to those teams who draft poorly and subsequently throw around money on the volatile free-agent market to try to build a winning team.

Of course, the reminder must be delivered to those Ravens fans who panic every March after seeing some players depart and are too impatient to wait for general manager Ozzie Newsome to act. The more levelheaded fans recognize this yearly process and remind anyone who will listen of the old mantra, “In Ozzie we trust.”

But this offseason is unique as the Ravens are dealing with the fallout from a series of unfortunate events that have wreaked havoc on their salary cap, leaving them with just $4.639 million in space before tendering their restricted and exclusive-rights free agents ahead of Tuesday’s 4 p.m. deadline. Much attention has fallen on the future of defensive tackle Haloti Ngata, who carries a $16 million cap figure for the 2015 season, but three other events have left Newsome and the Ravens in even worse shape than they might have been under normal circumstances.

The most obvious is the lingering fallout from the Ray Rice saga as the Ravens are still carrying $9.5 million in dead money on their 2015 cap after cutting the running back last Sept. 8. Even though the 28-year-old free agent hasn’t even been on the roster for over six months, his ghost carries the fourth-highest cap figure on the team for the coming season.

Some argued at the time of his signing in 2012 that the Ravens shouldn’t commit to a long-term contract with Rice, but no one could have foreseen the circumstances that led to the termination of his contract.

The second example remains more open-ended, but tight end Dennis Pitta’s second hip injury in 14 months last September has not only left his career in jeopardy but has created another gaping hole of dead resources. Though nothing is official in terms of his playing status, Pitta’s $4 million base salary is guaranteed for 2015 and it would be more costly to cut him than to keep him this year, meaning his $6.2 million cap figure will stay on the books despite the strong possibility that he sits out the season.

It’s fair to question whether the Ravens should have been more conservative before committing to Pitta last offseason — they could have used the franchise or transition tag to make sure his surgically-repaired hip was sound after the first injury — but they had received assurances from doctors that the 29-year-old had no greater risk to injure his hip again.

Those two players alone are responsible for $15.7 million in cap space with Rice no longer on the roster and Pitta potentially unable to play again. It’s akin to having another Ngata weighing on the cap without the benefit of having either player on the field.

A third event more open for debate than the others was the second anterior cruciate ligament tear suffered by cornerback Lardarius Webb only six months after he signed a six-year, $50 million contract in 2012. Prior to his second ACL injury in less than three years, Webb was emerging as one of the best cornerbacks in the NFL, receiving the fourth-highest grade of all players at his position from Pro Football Focus in 2011.

Few would argue that Webb has ever been the same since then and injuries are surely part of the game, but it was also terrible luck when he had just become one of the highest paid players on the roster. If he had continued on his pre-injury track, the Ravens would likely be able to live with his $12 million cap figure for the 2015 season and their concerns at the corner position would be less severe. Instead, they’re facing the possibility of cutting him and further depleting a position that was Baltimore’s Achilles heel in 2014.

No team — good or bad — is immune to making mistakes as there will always be signings and draft picks that don’t work out, but the three events outlined above have contributed to the Ravens’ worst predicament in several years despite the NFL’s salary cap increasing by $20 million over the last two offseasons.

This isn’t meant as an excuse for Ozzie Newsome and the Ravens as they’ll find a way to make additions to the roster, but it’s a simple reality to keep in mind as you brace for the start of free agency and what figures to be a difficult series of departures.

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Five hot topics for “State of the Ravens” address

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Five hot topics for “State of the Ravens” address

Posted on 23 February 2015 by Luke Jones

More than a month after their season-ending loss to New England in the divisional round, the Ravens will finally hold their annual “State of the Ravens” press conference Tuesday afternoon as they look back at last year and offer a look into their offseason plans to improve for 2015.

Below are five topics of interest that are likely to be covered at length:

1. Off-field conduct

A lingering Ray Rice question or two will be asked — particularly of team president Dick Cass, who hasn’t addressed the matter in a press conference setting — but the focus will likely fall on what the organization is doing to address off-field concerns that included five arrests last offseason and ex-Raven Terrence Cody and safety Will Hill already surfacing in the news over the last month. Head coach John Harbaugh acknowledged in January that the bar is higher in terms of expectations, but concerns will remain until the Ravens can show last year was an aberration and not a lack of organizational control.

2. The future of Haloti Ngata

The five-time Pro Bowl defensive tackle’s future and $16 million salary cap figure for 2015 have been dissected ad nauseam, but it will be interesting to listen to general manager Ozzie Newsome’s thoughts after Harbaugh expressed confidence last week that an extension would get done. Even though he ultimately inked linebacker Terrell Suggs to a new deal last winter, Newsome made it clear at last year’s “State of the Ravens” that he wasn’t afraid of letting a good player walk out the door. You wonder if we’ll hear a similar “bad cop” routine from Newsome to contrast Harbaugh’s optimism and put some heat on the veteran player.

3. Fixing the secondary

Newsome has often said you can never have too many good cornerbacks, but there’s no question the Ravens were lacking at that position last year even before the season-ending injury to top corner Jimmy Smith. Veteran Lardarius Webb carries a $12 million cap figure and is a likely candidate for a pay cut or a restructure deal, but the Ravens need to find a cornerback — maybe two — who is ready to step into a meaningful role. Safety might be an even bigger concern with Hill’s off-field baggage and the disappointing starts to the NFL careers of Matt Elam and Terrence Brooks.

4. Taking care of their own 

Much of this will hinge on a tight cap situation, but the Ravens proved last year that they were more concerned with taking care of their own than jumping into the free-agent market after re-signing Eugene Monroe, Daryl Smith, Dennis Pitta, and Jacoby Jones. The Ravens would love to have wide receiver Torrey Smith, running back Justin Forsett, and tight end Owen Daniels back next season, but how realistic is that with so few resources available? An offense that took major strides a year ago will already be dealing with new offensive coordinator, but it’s possible there will be significant player turnover as well.

5. Offseason surgical procedures and health concerns

Pitta’s future is bound to come up again after Harbaugh presented a less-than-encouraging update last week, but the end-of-season press conference typically brings updates on other players who’ve undergone offseason surgeries. The Sun reported earlier this month that center Jeremy Zuttah underwent a cleanup procedure for his hip, but the Ravens also have a number of players continuing to recover from season-ending injuries including Jimmy Smith, right tackle Rick Wagner, running back Lorenzo Taliaferro, cornerback Asa Jackson, and Brooks.

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Rice apologizes to Baltimore as anniversary of Atlantic City incident approaches

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Rice apologizes to Baltimore as anniversary of Atlantic City incident approaches

Posted on 13 February 2015 by Luke Jones

As the one-year anniversary of the infamous domestic-violence incident that resulted in the end of his career in Baltimore falls this weekend, Ray Rice issued a statement of apology and thanks to the city and Ravens fans.

In a letter to The Baltimore Sun, the 28-year-old running back again expressed regret for striking his wife inside a casino elevator in Atlantic City early on the morning of Feb. 15, 2014. After his aggravated assault case was resolved without any prison time and he initially received a two-game suspension, video surfaced of the incident on Sept. 8, which led to the Ravens terminating Rice’s contract and the NFL suspending him indefinitely later that same day.

“To all the kids who looked up to me, I’m truly sorry for letting you down,” Rice wrote in his letter, “but I hope it’s helped you learn that one bad decision can turn your dream into a nightmare. There is no excuse for domestic violence, and I apologize for the horrible mistake I made. I hope you can find it in your heart to forgive me, and I hope to make a positive difference in people’s lives by raising awareness of this issue.”

Rice won his appeal of the NFL’s indefinite suspension and was reinstated in November, but no team signed him before the conclusion of the 2014 season. The Sun reports Rice now plans to leave Baltimore and return to his native New York as he hopes to continue his NFL career.

His wrongful termination grievance filed against the Ravens was settled in January, but terms were not released. Rice also thanked the organization, mentioning owner Steve Bisciotti, general manager Ozzie Newsome, and head coach John Harbaugh specifically and expressing pride in winning Super Bowl XLVII.

Below is Rice’s full letter to The Sun:

Dear Baltimore,

This is not a farewell or goodbye. The last seven years that my family and I have spent in Baltimore have by far been the best of our lives. From the bottom of my heart, I thank you all for the love and support you’ve shown my family and I throughout my football career. We’ll always be grateful for the love we’ve received from all of our fans and supporters, and for winning a Super Bowl. To all the kids who looked up to me, I’m truly sorry for letting you down, but I hope it’s helped you learn that one bad decision can turn your dream into a nightmare. There is no excuse for domestic violence, and I apologize for the horrible mistake I made. I hope you can find it in your heart to forgive me, and I hope to make a positive difference in people’s lives by raising awareness of this issue. Thank you, Baltimore Ravens, for all you have done for my family and I. I’m very grateful to Steve Bisciotti, Ozzie Newsome, John Harbaugh, and everyone at 1 Winning Drive. I love you all very much, and I’ll always be proud to say I played for the Baltimore Ravens.

Thank you.

– Ray Rice

 

 

 

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Ravens president Cass on Rice settlement: “It’s time to turn the page”

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Ravens president Cass on Rice settlement: “It’s time to turn the page”

Posted on 16 January 2015 by Luke Jones

After deciding to settle the grievance filed by running back Ray Rice over his Sept. 8 release, the Ravens are ready to put one of the ugliest sagas in franchise history behind them.

The wrongful termination hearing was set to begin on Thursday before the sides agreed to a settlement that spared each party further public scrutiny and embarrassment. Rice was seeking the $3.529 million he was scheduled to make in base salary upon returning from his original two-game suspension before his contract was terminated hours after TMZ released the in-elevator video of Rice striking his then-fiancee Janay Palmer in an Atlantic City casino.

It remains unclear how much money was included in the settlement.

“The Ravens agreed to resolve the grievance with Ray Rice. It’s time to turn the page, and we’re moving forward,” team president Dick Cass said in a released statement. “We will continue to focus on being the best partner we can be with our community, and that includes our work with the House of Ruth and One Love Foundation on the issue of intimate partner abuse.

“We wish Janay and Ray Rice the best.”

The Ravens recently donated $400,000 to the One Love Foundation, an organization created in memory of murdered University of Virginia women’s lacrosse player and Baltimore native Yeardley Love that raises awareness about domestic violence.

Rice’s indefinite suspension handed down by the NFL after the in-elevator video surfaced on Sept. 8 was overturned in November, but the 27-year-old has yet to be signed by a team.

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Rice reportedly settles grievance with Ravens over termination

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Rice reportedly settles grievance with Ravens over termination

Posted on 15 January 2015 by Luke Jones

A hearing scheduled to begin Thursday between running back Ray Rice and the Ravens will not take place after all.

As first reported by Pro Football Talk, the sides settled Rice’s wrongful termination grievance in which he was seeking $3.529 million in base salary he was scheduled to make for the rest of the 2014 season before being cut on Sept. 8. Terms of the settlement have not been disclosed, but the agreement appears to close the book on Rice’s relationship with his former organization.

Unlike his appeal of the NFL’s indefinite suspension handed down hours after TMZ released the elevator video of what transpired between him and Janay Palmer, Rice figured to have a more difficult time in winning his grievance against the Ravens given the wide latitude that NFL teams own in cutting players. It’s possible that both sides wanted to bring closure without shedding light on any new details that could bring further embarrassment to either party.

Rice’s side was expected to argue that his release fell into the category of double jeopardy as the organization supported him throughout the ordeal until the time of the in-elevator video, but the Ravens would have likely pointed to the running back’s poor 2013 performance in which he rushed for a career-low 660 yards and averaged just 3.1 yards per carry as more than enough grounds for termination.

 

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Forsett hoping to escape “friend zone” in free agency

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Forsett hoping to escape “friend zone” in free agency

Posted on 12 January 2015 by Luke Jones

OWINGS MILLS, Md. — After he expressed gratitude for the Ravens taking a chance on him by turning in a career season, Justin Forsett is looking for a long-term partnership.

Forsett rushed for a career-high 1,266 yards and eight touchdowns to lead the league’s eighth-ranked rushing offense and has expressed repeatedly that he’d like to remain in Baltimore. But the Ravens will need to pony up more than the one-year, $730,000 contract they gave the journeyman back last April.

“There’s also a business side of it where, unfortunately, I’ve been in the ‘friend zone’ for most of my career,” the 29-year-old running back said. “Hopefully, we can get into a deeper commitment somewhere down the road and get some stability. But it is what it is. It’s in God’s hands, and I’m at peace with it.”

Determining Forsett’s value could be tricky as it’s no secret the value of running backs has declined dramatically in recent years in the pass-happy NFL. His doubters may credit the improvement of the offensive line and offensive coordinator Gary Kubiak’s history of finding productive running backs as the primary reasons for his success, but Forsett displayed excellent patience and vision in the Ravens’ zone-blocking scheme.

The longest commitment Forsett has received in the NFL was the two-year deal he signed with Jacksonville two years ago, but he was released after one injury-riddled season with the Jaguars.

The Ravens will be hoping for big things from Lorenzo Taliaferro in his second season after he averaged 4.3 yards per carry and rushed for 292 yards as a rookie, but Bernard Pierce was disappointing for a second straight year in running for just 3.9 yards per carry and carrying only 93 times. It’s possible that the Ravens could again look to the draft after selecting Taliaferro in the fourth round last May.

Beyond filling the void left behind by Ray Rice in the backfield, Forsett was strong in pass protection and was praised for his attitude and work ethic by coaches and teammates alike. He hopes to be a part of a Ravens offense that took major strides this season and is seeking further improvement in 2015.

“I would love to be a part of it,” Forsett said. “This is an organization that first gave me my shot, my first real opportunity, and I would love to stay.”

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Report: Ravens director of security charged with sex offense

Posted on 31 December 2014 by Luke Jones

The Ravens are back in the news for the wrong reasons.

According to The Sun, senior director of security Darren Sanders has been charged with a fourth-degree sex offense stemming from a complaint filed against him on Dec. 14. Details about the allegations were not immediately known, but the offense carries a maximum one-year prison sentence, a $1,000 fine, or both.

Sanders’ attorney, Andrew Alperstein, told the newspaper that the allegations against his client were “totally fabricated, made up.” Sanders, who has spent more than a decade working for the Ravens organization and is a former Baltimore police homicide detective, has reportedly been assigned a Feb. 9 court date.

The Ravens said in a statement that they were aware of the situation and “have been investigating thoroughly.”

Of course, Sanders was a scrutinized figure in the Ray Rice saga as he claimed to have requested video surveillance of the elevator incident from both Atlantic City police and the Revel Casino but instead heard a description of what happened from a law enforcement official. He also said that Rice told him he had slapped his then-fiancee and denied punching her before video of the incident was released by TMZ months later.

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HOLIDAY VIP DEAL: Buy “Purple Reign 2″ for Ravens readers here

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HOLIDAY VIP DEAL: Buy “Purple Reign 2″ for Ravens readers here

Posted on 05 December 2014 by Nestor Aparicio

Thanks for checking our section of purple cyberspace and for having interest in purchasing Purple Reign 2: Faith, Family & Football – A Baltimore Love Story via WNST.net. It’s been a labor of love for me — researching, writing and presenting the building of a NFL championship.

In 2001, I wrote Purple Reign: Diary of a Raven Maniac and I’ve had many inquiries regarding reprinting it and packaging it with the new book on the 2012 Ravens. So, below are the options to purchase both books as well as a 6-CD collection of our best WNST radio interviews with the many stars and interesting people from Super Bowl XXXV and Super Bowl XLVII. It will have original audio from 1990’s with Ray Lewis, Brian Billick, Jon Ogden as well as a two-hour life retrospective when I sat down with Arthur B. Modell in 2004. We’ll also include highlights from the past two years with Joe Flacco, Ray Rice, Torrey Smith, John Harbaugh and others. It will be nearly seven hours of conversation with Baltimore Ravens who have hoisted the Lombardi Trophy.

The book is 480 pages, chock full of stories, background, behind-the-scenes information told in 22 chapters from the firing of Brian Billick to the hiring of John Harbaugh to the drafting of Joe Flacco and Ray Rice to the 2012 season and the Super Bowl XLVII win and parade down Pratt Street and celebration inside the stadium back in February.

And the best part of the book or books? They both have happy endings. If you love the Baltimore Ravens, you’ll love the book(s).

It’s the best work of my career and I know once you read it you’ll agree. Virtually every review has been a 5-star compliment since the book was released in June 2013.

Here are two links to excerpts from Purple Reign 2:

This is an excerpt from Chapter 6 of Purple Reign 2: Faith, Family & Football – A Baltimore Love Story.

And here’s another from Chapter 10 involving Joe Flacco and Steve Bisciotti’s cash showdown in August 2012.

 

BUY PURPLE REIGN HERE:

Here’s our shopping cart for all things Purple Reign, new and old:

Purple Reign V.I.P. Box Set (HOLIDAY DISCOUNT)

Includes:

Purple Reign 2: Faith, Family & Football – A Baltimore Love Story (2013)

Purple Reign: Diary of a Raven Maniac (2001) hardback 2nd edition

WNST Purple Reign Radio Memories (6 CD’s)

RAY 2:52/BELIEVE IN JOE New Orleans poster

Full color 12X18 poster of Purple Reign 2 cover (featuring fabulous artwork of local sports cartoonist Mike Ricigliano) that is suitable for autographs/framing or your mancave wall

And if you buy this deluxe package, make sure you let me know how to personalize the new book for you below:

$59.95 plus S&H

$49.95 WITH FREE SHIPPING!!!!!

How do we sign Purple Reign 2?

 

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Purple Reign Both Books Hardbound

Includes:

Purple Reign 2: Faith, Family & Football – A Baltimore Love Story (2013)

Purple Reign: Diary of a Raven Maniac (2001)

$49.99 plus S&H

 

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Purple Reign 2: Faith, Family & Football – A Baltimore Love Story BOOK ONLY (hardback)

$26.95 plus S&H

 

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Purple Reign: Diary of a Raven Maniac BOOK ONLY (hardback)

$24.95 plus S&H

 

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Purple Reign Radio Memories — a 6 CD set of WNST purple interviews with stars & heroes of Super Bowl XXXV & Super Bowl XLVII

Nearly seven (7) hours of classic audio conversations including the life story of Arthur B. Modell in his words

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FOR E-BOOKS AND E-READERS

Both Purple Reign: Faith, Family & Football – A Baltimore Love Story & Purple Reign: Diary of a Raven Maniac are NOW AVAILABLE:

Click here to purchase via Smashwords for most e-formats

Click here to purchase via Amazon for Kindle

 

 

 

 REVIEWS FOR PURPLE REIGN 2:

By JL
Format:Kindle Edition|Amazon Verified Purchase
If you want to read game reviews about the 2012 Ravens, just looks online. If you want to read the story of the 2012 Ravens, if you want to relive the journey of the 2012 Ravens then read Purple Reign 2. This book cover so much history about the Ravens and is told through the eyes of Baltimore’s own award winning Journalist, Nestor Aparicio.The history of the Ravens is recapped from a fans perspective with inside information. Aparicio makes you feel as if you are in the Ravens Locker Room, draft war room and the sidelines. Ray Lewis, Joe Flacco, Ed Reed, Torrey Smith, Anquan Boldin, Art Model, Steve Biscotti, Ozzie Newsome and John Harbaugh all provide Aparicio with amazing insight and recap events of the 2012 journey in a way never imagined. A must read for all football fans.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Must have if you’re a ravens fan. August 29, 2013
Format:Kindle Edition
The interviews make it all worth it. He goes into detail how some of the players were chosen in the draft. Honestly I couldn’t put the book down. You get to have a better insight and understand the different players in the team. If you’re a ravens fan, this is one book you definitely should have.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Ravens History August 19, 2013
Format:Kindle Edition
Nestor gives you behind-the-curtains access of the Ravens run to the Super Bowl!!! Amazing insight to the players, coaches and owners. A must have for every Ravens fan!!!
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Format:Kindle Edition
Nestor Aparicio is a true fan of the Ravens and his passion is what makes this book so great.. All of the “behind the scenes” moments that he describes in detail, show all of the hard work that went into this book.. A Ravens fan can open this book at any point and be captivated.. The 2012 season was a great ride and this book puts all of the pieces together.. From process of the hiring of Coach John Harbaugh to the magical win of Super Bowl XLVII, a true page turner.

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Ravens issue statement in response to recent Rice interviews

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Ravens issue statement in response to recent Rice interviews

Posted on 03 December 2014 by WNST Staff

PRESS RELEASE

STATEMENT FROM THE BALTIMORE RAVENS

KEVIN BYRNE – Senior Vice President of Public and Community Relations

“There has been some discussion in the media about the Ravens providing a ‘script’ or ‘suggested script’ to Janay and Ray Rice prior to a May 23 press session. After conversations with Ray about what he wanted to say, we did provide talking points to Ray for this event. (Those talking points are [below]. Preparing talking points and briefings for meetings with reporters is common in our business.) After Ray informed the Ravens that Janay wanted also to speak at the event, I asked Ray on two different days if Ray wanted me to speak with Janay in advance of the press session. Both times, Ray declined and said: ‘She’s good. She knows what she wants to say.’ At no time prior to the May 23 session did we provide talking points, a script or suggested script to Janay or speak with her about the press event. We did not recommend or suggest to Ray or Janay that she apologize in any way.

“We understand that the NFLPA also provided Ray talking points and that he repeatedly looked at these on his phone during the May 23 press event.”

Talking points provided by the organization:

• I Take Full Responsibility For What Happened That Night. I Apologize…(list all you want to address)

• We Will Not Let This One Night Define Who We Are

• I Was Wrong. I Made a Mistake.

• I Regret My Behavior. I’m Embarrassed.

• I Hold Myself to a Higher Standard and I Failed.

• We Can Do Something Going Forward By Admitting Our Mistakes and Making Sure We Serve as an Example of Doing the Right Things

• I Have Been Busted Up Over My Behavior. I’ve Been in Anguish. That Is Not the Way I Was Raised. I Am So Sorry Mom…And Janay’s Family

• I Pride Myself On Being a Good Example and Role Model to Younger People. I Failed Miserably

• Janay and I Are in Counseling, and We Will Continue This. We are Determined to, as Coach Harbaugh Says, Make This Right…COUNSELING HAS BEEN GREAT FOR ME AND US. I’VE TAKEN STEPS TO BE A BETTER HUSBAND, FATHER AND ROLE MODEL.

• I Completely Understand Any Person, Group or Company That Wants to Distance Themselves From Me. That’s My Fault. I Am Working to Re-Build That Trust, Especially With Young People Who Look Up to Me

• I Am Working To Be the Best Person I Can Be. We Are Working Together.

• We Are Building to Be the Best Partners We Can Be to Each Other and the Best Parents We Can Be to Rayven

• Thank you

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Rice wins appeal of indefinite suspension, cleared for NFL return

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Rice wins appeal of indefinite suspension, cleared for NFL return

Posted on 28 November 2014 by Luke Jones

Former Ravens running back Ray Rice has been cleared to return to the NFL.

Former U.S. District Judge Barbara S. Jones ruled in favor of the 27-year-old’s appeal of an indefinite suspension handed down by NFL commissioner Roger Goodell on Sept. 8, the same day TMZ released a video of Rice striking then-fiancée Janay Palmer in the face in at Atlantic City casino elevator. Jones decided the NFL had unfairly punished Rice twice for the same act despite Goodell’s claim that the running back’s account of what had happened was ambiguous when they met in June.

“In this arbitration, the NFL argues that Commissioner Goodell was misled when he disciplined Rice the first time,” Jones wrote in her decision. “Because, after careful consideration of all of the evidence, I am not persuaded that Rice lied to, or misled, the NFL at his June interview, I find that the indefinite suspension was an abuse of discretion and must be vacated.”

Rice had initially been suspended two games — a punishment received with much public contempt — and was set to return to the Ravens in Week 3 before the second video was released the morning after the season-opening loss to Cincinnati. Baltimore terminated Rice’s contract moments before the NFL announced his indefinite suspension.

The NFL and the Ravens have maintained they never saw the video evidence of what happened inside the elevator of the Revel Casino, but Jones ruled that Rice’s story of what had happened was accurate and the video brought no new evidence that warranted a second suspension. General manager Ozzie Newsome stated publicly that Rice never lied to him about what happened with Palmer, but team officials admitted seeing the graphic video changed their perception of the incident after standing by him for nearly seven months.

Jones ruled that any shock or outcry over the release of the inside-the-elevator video should not have influenced what was already a standing punishment.

“I do not doubt that viewing the video in September evoked horror in Commissioner Goodell as it did with the public,” Jones wrote. “But this does not change the fact that Rice did not lie or mislead the NFL at the June 16 meeting.”

The hearing took place in New York in early November with Rice, Goodell, Newsome, and others testifying.

Rice issued the following statement through the NFL Players Association after the decision was announced:

“I would like to thank Judge Barbara Jones, the NFL Players Association, my attorneys, agents, advisors, family, friends and fans — but most importantly, my wife Janay. I made an inexcusable mistake and accept full responsibility for my actions. I am thankful that there was a proper appeals process in place to address this issue. I will continue working hard to improve myself and be the best husband, father and friend, while giving back to my community and helping others to learn from my mistakes.”

In a statement, the NFL acknowledged it would not challenge Jones’ ruling.

“We respect Judge Jones’s decision to reinstate Ray Rice from his indefinite suspension for violating the league’s Personal Conduct Policy in an incident of domestic violence,” the league stated. “Ray Rice is a free agent and has been eligible to be signed by an NFL team since he was released by the Ravens. Based on Judge Jones’ decision, he will be eligible to play upon signing a new contract.”

Rice had technically been free to sign with another team, but the lifting of his suspension now makes him eligible to play after he was banned for the first 12 weeks of the season. It remains to be seen if a team would be interested in the public relations distraction of immediately signing a player so closely linked with domestic violence, which remains a hot-button topic around the league.

The potential public backlash would be obvious, but Rice is also coming off the worst season of his career in which he averaged just 3.1 yards per carry and gained only 660 rushing yards. Rice dropped weight this past offseason and appeared in good shape during training camp and the preseason, but it’s uncertain if any team would risk signing him to a contract at least between now and the end of the 2014 season.

“I hope he gets a second chance,” former Ravens teammate and close friend Torrey Smith said earlier this week. “We live in a country where you are supposed to truly get second chances, and our judicial system is based on that. It’s supposed to be, at least. It’s not always that way. But [I hope] he gets a chance to redeem himself and show people who he really is, because that guy on that tape made a bad decision.”

Rice also has a separate wrongful termination grievance against the Ravens. If he wins that, he could collect as much as $3.2 million in base salary originally owed this season, but that case is more complicated considering the latitude NFL teams have in releasing players.

What Friday’s decision really means for Rice in 2014 remains to be seen, but the NFLPA will view it as a significant victory challenging the autonomy of Goodell in such matters.

“This decision is a victory for a disciplinary process that is fair and transparent,” the union stated. “This union will always stand up and fight for the due process of our players. We take no pleasure in seeing a decision that confirms what we have been saying about the Commissioner’s office acting arbitrarily. The only remaining action is for NFL owners to embrace a fair process with a neutral arbitrator in all cases. The players thank Judge Barbara Jones for her time and thoroughness in this matter.”

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