Now that Ray Rice has been somewhat vindicated, not from his violent act, but from his interactions with Roger Goodell, he is seeking new employment in the NFL. After an arbitrator ruled that Rice was unfairly punished twice for the same offense, he is free to try and latch onto another team. Whether that will happen this year is doubtful. 2015 will be a different story if a need is there and the guy shows he can still deliver as a top level running back.
We could debate endlessly whether Ray Rice deserves another chance in football. I don’t have endless time so I will debate it for a few lines here. I don’t think Rice is the devil, but what he did was atrocious obviously. But should he be punished forever, if he is truly trying to make it right? I don’t think so. I know he is sorry for what he did. Most normal people would be. The fact that it became a national story for months on end surely made him more sorry for what happened in that casino elevator. If the act had happened in private, who knows if he would have tried to get his act together without the consequences he has faced since the act went public.
The biggest point to come out of this arbitrator’s ruling is the fact that Roger Goodell is not as honest as Ray Rice. Being below the honesty level of a domestic abuser is not a good look for a allegedly upstanding leader like Goodell. The man charged with running the most successful pro sport’s league in the world should be more trustworthy than that. But this point is not a big shock to many people. I think the majority of people believed that Goodell was trying to cover up what he and Ray Rice talked about months ago in their private meeting. Goodell wanted to appear deceived by Rice, so that the commissioner’s two game suspension didn’t look so bad. Also, if Rice mislead Goodell about what actually happened in the elevator, Rog’s indefinite ban on Rice looked justified.
The bottom line on Ray Rice being able to get back in the league is value. The NFL is a business and all decisions are based on that fact. Sure, some teams won’t touch the guy on principle alone. But most will take at least a look at him. If his value to a franchise outweighs his baggage, then he will be signed. I have no doubt about it. And each day that passes, his baggage is less memorable to the average NFL fan. Let us not forget all the women who wore Ray Rice jersey’s the game after the video of the actual punch came out. I remember outrage over what Mike Vick did to his dogs. But he was eventually signed again. And when it was evident that he could help the Eagles, he got another big time contract.
Ray Rice will not see another huge contract. He is an aging running back and no one would give more big time money for that position in the NFL. He will play again though, just as long as he is better than any other back on a given team. After enough time has passed, fans will forget or forgive. At that point teams won’t have to deal with daily questions about Ray Rice, and he can just be another guy on the roster….or as close as a guy can come to that after what happened.