On Feb. 15, 2014, TMZ released a video that would change the lives of Ray Rice and his family. The world saw the former Super Bowl winner drag his then fiancé, Janay Palmer, through elevator doors. The act angered you to see such carelessness of a man caring for his fiancé, and even worse, it burned more questions of what happened beforehand. But while no one knew the answers, what was once a private dispute became a very public conversation.
In the following months, Rice and Palmer, along with the Baltimore Ravens organization, tried their best to change the narrative. With a two-game suspension from the NFL and Commissioner Roger Goodell taking a strong stand against domestic violence, everyone involved tried to move forward. A few months later, however, things took a turn for the worse. On Sept. 8, 2014, TMZ released the full interior elevator video of that fateful February night. This video showed everything leading up to Rice dragging Palmer out the elevator. We saw what seemed like two intoxicated individuals arguing with Rice hitting Palmer to the floor and proceeding to drag her out.
That video should make it hard for you to want to see him succeed again, but everyone deserves a second chance. We’ve all made mistakes. Now imagine your mistake becoming your identity. Mistakes are usually something you can overcome at some point. But what would you do if you had to spend the rest of your life making up for one?
Rice is facing that possibility in the wake of a horrific act of physical abuse directed at Palmer that has left him out of work in the NFL. Am I equating domestic violence with running a red light? No, but after having that serious lapse in judgment, and having since done everything possible to make amends, Rice continues to pay professionally for his sins.
Rice and Palmer, now his wife, will probably never forget that night, but they have worked on moving past it. The two married one day after Rice’s indictment on March 28, 2014, and the two have since been on the road to recovery. From attending mandatory meetings to visiting children’s shelters, the Rices have been committed to showing their actions back their words.
Rice has visited schools to tell his story, giving kids the full scope of what happens after such a poor lapse of judgment. He has used the incident to start a dialogue with community youth and college students. From working with his foundation — the Ray Rice Charitable Fund — to taking part in charity softball games to benefit the families of the officers recently killed in Dallas, Rice has been committed to trying to have a positive impact on society.
Thanks to Ray Rice for speaking to the team earlier this week.https://t.co/c3WZd55yVC
— FSU Football (@FSU_Football) August 19, 2016
Before he was let go, Rice was no stranger to volunteering in the community. In fact, he was the one player Ravens officials could count on to make public appearances, be it a charity sporting event or a visit to a school or youth group. In 2012, Rice started an initiative called “A Ray of Hope: A Pro-Kindness, Anti-Bullying, Teen Suicide Prevention Outreach.” Rice hosted an event and aligned the initiative with a tragic story of a student committing suicide due to cyber bullying. With 4,000 people in attendance, Rice made a statement that rang true to his own life: You can be a hero to someone who is being bullied, just by being their friend.
The Rutgers Alum is only 29, and as someone who is known to keep himself in excellent shape he undoubtedly could help some team despite nearing the age when the production of most running backs begins to slip. But according to recent statistics in 2015, running backs over the age of 27 have dominated the top 10 in rushing yards. Names such as Adrian Peterson, Darren McFadden and Chris Ivory are some of the few names decorated on that list and holding the top spots for more than 1,000 yards in the 2015 NFL season. With fresh legs and a vengeance, one could think Ray Rice could join that group. No one could expect perfection, but what we could expect is a teammate ready to get things right on the field once again.
It appears as though the NFL and its fans refuse to forgive Rice. He seems to have been deemed a PR nightmare no team wants to deal with. Is that fair? We have celebrated the growth of other football players who have a checkered past. Arizona Cardinals safety Tyrann Mathieu, for example, seemed to be heading down a destructive road, but look at him now. Mathieu is a productive and noncontroversial player adored by his teammates, and a shining example of what a strong support system can do for someone seeking change. Greg Hardy is another example. Hardy’s domestic violence incident played out in the same manner as Rice’s, yet he received a chance at redemption with the Cowboys. Hardy has yet to show remorse for his actions, so one could say that the only reason he got another chance was due to his potential as an impact player.
What Rice did is inexcusable, but why can’t he get a second chance? He has provided a platform for people on both sides of domestic violence to address the issue. It’s time for someone to offer him a platform to again ply his trade in the NFL.