Harbaugh, however, did express disappointment that three of his players – Rice, wide receiver Deonte Thompson and offensive guard/tackle Jah Reid – were arrested in a 22-day span, calling their actions “unacceptable ... and disappointing.”
“You also separate the person from the activity and redemption is something we think is important as well,” Harbaugh said Tuesday morning at the NFL owners meetings at the Ritz-Carlton Orlando Grande Lakes resort. “If there’s every a point in time when we feel like that person has lost value for our team, really it starts with football, or because of their character they’re no longer what we want to have be a part of us, then you move on from those guys. But those guys aren’t at that point yet.”
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Rice was arrested Feb. 15 at an Atlantic City casino and charged with simple assault after he had a physical altercation with his fiancée that left her unconscious. Six days later, Thompson was arrested in Gainesville, Fla., and charged with possession or marijuana. On March 9, Reid was arrested on two misdemeanor battery charges after he was involved with a fight in a Key West, Fla., strip club.
Speaking specifically on Rice, Harbaugh said, “I’m very confident that he’s someone we want as part of our team. He will be a part of our team. He’s a person of character. The thing that’s really important is to be able to support the person without condoning the action. There’s no justifying what happened. When you drink too much in public, those kinds of things happen.
“Really that’s what happened with Jah Reid as well,” Harbaugh said. “You can’t get drunk at a bar, you just can’t do it. You’re not a kid anymore and you’ve got responsibilities to not just yourself, but your family and your organization and your teammates and it’s unacceptable. You can’t be riding around in a car with marijuana in your bag. I don’t care what your reason or your excuse is for it. You can’t be riding around with guys that you have no business riding around with. Those are the core issues those guys had and we addressed them with those guys directly. It’s unacceptable, it’s disappointing.”