Rice deserves second chance
Offers pay to domestic-abuse prevention programs if signed to play
And so Ray Rice says he will donate his entire salary to organizations focused on domestic-violence prevention if an NFL team signs him as the training camp clock goes tick, tick, tick.
Predictable reaction: Eye-roll. Smirk. Maybe pfft! I hope it happens. Seriously. Is Rice driven by ego, self-preservation and insincerity? Perhaps.
Maybe highly likely. So what? Where is the harm?
Rice has a family to support, including his wife, Janay, the woman he slapped in an elevator in Atlantic City in 2014, captured in the infamous video that effectively destroyed Rice’s NFL career with the Baltimore Ravens.
Rice’s return can give a voice to an average of three women killed every day by an intimate partner in the United States as well as the nearly 20 people per minute who are physically abused by an intimate partner, according to the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence.
And the NFL could certainly use some positive news, dealing with a tarnished image with domestic violence and its players.
The point is that Rice is trying to do some good here. He’s owned up to his crimes, and obviously needs the work.
“All the scrutiny that I’ve got, it was deserved, because domestic violence is a horrible thing,” Rice told USA Today Sports this past week. “Me donating my salary is something that’ll be from the heart for me. I only want to play football so I can end it the right way for my kids and for the people that really believed in me. But I know there’s a lot of people affected by domestic violence, and every dollar helps. It’s raising awareness.”
Will it also raise eyebrows? Of course it will, much like the cynical shots aimed at Michael Vick when he became an unlikely advocate, speaking up against animal cruelty. Yep, same guy as dog-killer Michael Vick, who served a year and a half of his 23-month sentence in a federal prison for his role in a dogfighting operation.
As a dog lover and owner, I supported Vick’s redemption road as well. What he did was despicable. What Rice did was despicable. But all anyone can do with their life is move on and try to live a better one.
Vick has done as much with his conflicted image. He appeared before the Pennsylvania House of Representatives in December, lobbying for passage of an animal-rights bill that would allow police officers to rescue dogs or cats from vehicles if it reaches an unsafe temperature.
Rice is looking for his redemptive journey as well, though he faces other challenges, mostly performance-based.
Vick had some mileage left in his playing career. Quarterbacks are always at a premium.
Running backs are not in a league that is pass-happy. Rice has some very strong negatives, including the fact that he is pushing 30 and had a spotty 3.1 yards per carry average the last time he took the field in 2013. The fact that he was once a the threetime Pro Bowl running back amounts to ancient history.
Rice’s chance at redemption is a long one, but it merits consideration.
“I’d say give him a chance,” said Carol Wick, former CEO of Harbor House, a domestic-violence shelter in Central Florida.
But like many people, Wick raises concerns about sincerity.
“It’s always hard when you look at a situation like that and you see the person is trying to do something for themselves to get back into the NFL . ... Abusers are always self-serving.”
Statistics indicate that 50 per cent of abusers can change. By all accounts, Rice is in the positive half of that 50-50 population. Give it a coin flip.
Better yet, give the man a chance, give the man a job, so he can do some good in this world.
Whether he’s truly sincere of not, the end game is a good thing.
Ray Rice has offered to play for free after abusing his wife, Janay Palmer, in 2014.