Rice isn’t cooked yet — but might be when he gets his day in court

February 20, 2014 | Drew Forrester

A lot of you have e-mailed me over the last few days wondering when I’d be rendering my opinion on Ray Rice and last weekend’s incident in Atlantic City.

Well, for starters, I’ve already opined on the elements of it that we know for certain: It’s a concern anytime you’re arrested, but particularly in the NFL where any brush with the law – prosecuted or not – can affect your team’s ability to use you in future games.  I also think the league won’t look kindly on this Rice incident occurring at a casino.  True, football players aren’t barred from hanging out at casinos, but that doesn’t mean they want you to have your own private parking spot at one of the gambling hot spots in Atlantic City, either.  As we all know, the one element of sports the NFL does its best to avoid is any contact at all with gambling.

That said, none of those “issues” address the main point of having an opinion on Rice.  The opinion everyone is making these days is “what should happen to Ray Rice?”

Here’s mine on the subject:  First and most importantly, I’m not making any sort of judgment on what “should” happen to Rice until the facts have been presented to the judge and he/she makes their professional decision on what the state of New Jersey will do in the form of punishment to Rice.

I waited until The Wells Report was released last Friday before I made my call on Richie Incognito and those other idiots in Miami who tortured Jonathan Martin.

I’ll wait until Rice has his day in court to say “this is what SHOULD happen to Rice”.  Rice’s attorney has told us from the beginning to allow his client to proceed through the legal process and we’ll learn more about the situation — so, I’ll give him the professional courtesy of allowing that to occur before I render my own verdict.

I’ll say this, though:  I fully expect Rice to be suspended by the league in a manner similar to what happened with Ben Roethlisberger; I suspect he’ll be suspended for the first six games of the 2014 season and eventually have that reduced to four games.

That’s what I “expect” — and I readily admit I’m “expecting” that well in advance of Rice having his day in court.

As for Rice, personally, I’ll continue to say what I said on Monday when I first addressed the situation on the D&L Window Tinting Morning Reaction.  My guess, knowing what I know about him and the general “after midnight casino lifestyle”, is that Saturday morning’s confrontation with his fiancee was probably fueled in (large?) part by alcohol.  That certainly doesn’t justify any sort of assault taking place, rather it puts into more proper perspective how a local athlete so strongly revered in the community could be involved in something like what transpired in Atlantic City with someone he’s planning on marrying.  Alcohol does a lot of bad things to people.  And it doesn’t pick or choose whom it adversely affects, either.

I have no interest at all in “breaking down the video” that was leaked yesterday to a national website.  I have no idea what it reveals, other than the obvious which is Rice is bringing his fiancee out of an elevator because, clearly, she’s not in any shape to bring herself out.  I see and hear a lot of armchair attorneys in town talking about the video clip and trying to find Rice guilty of “something” via that fifty seconds of film.  I won’t do that.

I assume the police filed charges on Rice and his fiancee based on the video they witnessed that showed the two of them strike one another.

That’s good enough for me.

I don’t need to see that video at all.  I’m not sure it’s our “right” to see it, honestly.

It’s part of a legal case at this point.  It should probably remain under lock and key until some sort of verdict is rendered by a judge.

Either way, though, I’ll trust the Atlantic City police who are much more experienced than I in dealing with this sort of stuff.

If the video showed Rice striking his fiancee with an open hand, whether or not that rendered her unconscious is of little importance to me, personally.  He struck her — that’s against the law — and he needs to be prosecuted to the extent the state of New Jersey deems reasonable.

Once that’s done, I’ll tell you what I think should happen to Ray Rice as it relates to his service with the Ravens and the league itself.

Lastly, if I could give Ray Rice any advice, it would simply be to take this time to use his faith and draw strength from a relationship with God that will help guide him through this situation.

Unlike fans in town, friends, enemies and members of the media, God will be a comforting source for Rice in the coming days. He knows the truth about Ray Rice’s heart and his work in the community and the sincerity with which he’s obligated himself to make Baltimore a better place for the people’s lives he’s touched over the last seven years.

God will accept his personal “guilty plea”, and forgive him, which is probably what Ray Rice needs right now more than anything.

Everyone else can pile on as they see fit.