Rice waits for sec­ond chance

Daily Freeman (Kingston, NY) - - SPORTS - By Schuyler Dixon

Un­signed for two years since the re­lease of the hor­rific video of him punch­ing his then-fi­ancee, Ray Rice says his sec­ond chance has come through his choice to speak out against do­mes­tic vi­o­lence.

The for­mer Bal­ti­more run­ning back still wants to re­sume his NFL ca­reer, and he doesn’t be­grudge Greg Hardy for get­ting the op­por­tu­nity that he so far hasn’t. Rice just wishes the for­mer Dal­las de­fen­sive end had used the plat­form of play­ing the same way Rice has tried to make amends.

“What I wanted to see him do with his sec­ond chance would have been a lot dif­fer­ent,” Rice said Wed­nes­day af­ter join­ing a Big 12 Con­fer­ence-spon­sored panel to dis­cuss vi­o­lence against women on col­lege cam­puses.

“I would have loved to see him ad­vo­cate and be a pos­i­tive force and take the right steps go­ing for­ward,” he said. “I wish Greg noth­ing but suc­cess in life. I never wish bad on any­one. And I hope that he can take some steps to move in the right di­rec­tion go­ing for­ward.”

Hardy’s one sea­son with the Cow­boys didn’t do much to quell crit­i­cism the team re­ceived for sign­ing him af­ter his do­mes­tic vi­o­lence case in North Carolina. The for­mer Carolina Pan­thers stand­out made light of the 9/11 at­tacks on Twit­ter, had an in­ap­pro­pri­ate com­ment about New Eng­land quar­ter­back Tom Brady’s wife and a phys­i­cal al­ter­ca­tion with a Cow­boys as­sis­tant coach dur­ing a game.

Af­ter pho­tos of Hardy’s bruised ex-girl­friend were re­leased, his pro­duc­tion dropped sig­nif­i­cantly. Dal­las owner and gen­eral man­ager Jerry Jones ul­ti­mately de­cided not to re-sign him af­ter ini­tially an­swer­ing crit­ics by say­ing he wanted to give Hardy a long-term deal.

The same week that the now-un­signed Hardy was ar­rested on a co­caine pos­ses­sion charge in a Dal­las sub­urb, Rice made his lat­est ap­pear­ance to dis­cuss his life since the videos that de­railed his ca­reer .

The first showed his nowwife, Janay Rice, be­ing dragged un­con­scious out of a ho­tel el­e­va­tor in New Jersey. The sec­ond showed the punch that knocked her out, lead­ing to his re­lease by the Ravens and an in­def­i­nite sus­pen­sion from the NFL. That ban was over­turned in court, but an­other team hasn’t signed him.

A Su­per Bowl winner fol­low­ing the 2012 sea­son, Rice played his last game on Dec. 29, 2013.

“I think the one thing I can take from it is I’m not out there say­ing I de­serve a sec­ond chance,” said Rice, who has 6,180 yards rush­ing in six sea­sons. “I used to have con­trol over that, my play­ing days. But I know that’s out of my con­trol. And I think what I con­trol now is how many peo­ple can I help, whether I’m play­ing or not.”

Rice speaks to high school and col­lege ath­letes, re­peat­ing his re­frain that he spent too much time try­ing to be “the” man in­stead of “a” man. He says there are no ex­cuses for do­mes­tic vi­o­lence, al­co­hol or oth­er­wise — lessons he says he learned with ther­apy and other con­ver­sa­tions with ex­perts on the topic. One of the par­tic­i­pants at the Dal­las ses­sion was Brenda Tracy, who has pub­licly taken her story of rape by Ore­gon State foot­ball play­ers to teams in­clud­ing those at Bay­lor fol­low­ing the school’s sex­ual as­sault scan­dal.

To those who ques­tion his mo­tives, Rice points to his sta­ble fam­ily life — his wife, 4-year-old daugh­ter and in­fant son.

“I don’t have a sit­u­a­tion at home that’s bro­ken,” Rice said. “I have a wife and I have a son and I have a daugh­ter that have to grow up with their fa­ther, who made a ter­ri­ble de­ci­sion in life. And I have to ex­plain that to them.”

Af­ter the Big 12 panel, Rice was asked what he would say to Ok­la­homa run­ning back Joe Mixon, who was suspended for a year af­ter punch­ing a woman in the face in a restau­rant but is in his sec­ond sea­son with the Soon­ers. Mixon hasn’t ad­dressed his case pub­licly, and Rice said that’s an im­por­tant step.

While there is video of Mixon’s in­ci­dent, it hasn’t been nearly as widely viewed as those in­volv­ing Rice.

NICK WASS — THE AS­SO­CI­ATED PRESS FILE

In this Aug. 27, 2014 photo, Bal­ti­more Ravens run­ning back Ray Rice sits on the side­line in the first half of an NFL pre­sea­son foot­ball game against the San Fran­cisco 49ers in Bal­ti­more.

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