As he stood in front of hundreds of kids last year at his football clinic at Calvert Hall, Ray Rice made a promise to those in the crowd.
“When I make promises, I like to keep them,” the Ravens running back said today. “I made a special promise. We said that we were going to bring a Super Bowl back to Baltimore.”
The comment was met with loud cheers by those who attended the second annual Ray Rice Day in Baltimore.
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“Being involved in the community is just something that, winning the Super Bowl or not, I know I’d be out here doing Ray Rice Day again and I’d be telling the kids the same message every day,” Rice said. “It starts with school. Just keep going and doing the right thing, respecting their parents, eating right. I’d be giving them the same message Super Bowl or not but the Super Bowl just made it 10 times sweeter.”
The event, which Rice started in his hometown of New Rochelle, N.Y., is a free football clinic open to kids ages 7 through 13. There were 670 kids who registered for the clinic and the online registration filled up in minutes.
Rice, several of his teammates, including wide receiver Torrey Smith and linebacker Adrian Hamilton, members of the Towson University football team and local parents and coaches ran kids through drills and taught football fundamentals.
The camp also had activities for special-needs children through staff members from the Kennedy Kreiger Institute.
“I’ve been having it in New York for the last five years,” Rice said. “We brought it down to Baltimore and it was just a great way to bring communities and families together. I’ve been living here for six years so this has become home for me as well. This is what it’s all about. These kids are getting ready to have a lot of fun today.”
Rice, the three-time Pro Bowl selection who has rushed for 5,520 yards and 33 touchdowns in five seasons with the Ravens, posed for pictures and move from station to station, demonstrating different techniques and joking with kids. He also vowed to get kids to do the “Harlem Shake” dance.
“The main mission of today is to have fun,” Rice told the crowd. “But at the end of the day, we are all winners.”
Unlike last year when he stayed away from the team facility while his agent worked out a long-term contract extension for him with the Ravens, Rice has regularly been at the Under Armour Performance Center this offseason, doing conditioning work with his teammates.
However, he hoped that he showed a different kind of leadership today with the work that he continues to do in the community.
“I want them to see that being an NFL player comes with a lot of responsibility and responsibility is something that these kids look up to,” Rice said. “You are in the public eye. That’s something we always have to remind ourselves of, whether you are around your family or your teammates.”