The deadline for Ray Rice to agree to a long-term contract extension with the Ravens is quickly approaching and there has been no indication of significant progress in the negotiations, but the runnung back showed Friday night that he hasn’t lost hope or his sense of humor.
“I’m always optimistic,” Rice said while playing host to ”A Ray of Hope,” an anti-bullying teen suicide outreach event at Merriweather Post Pavilion in Columbia. “God has put me in a position where not too many people can say they’ve been. I never played for the dollars and all of that other stuff. My rookie contract, quite frankly, you just signed it and go play football so this is a little bit difference of an experience for me.”
The two-time Pro Bowler has until Monday at 4 p.m. to agree to a long-term deal with the Ravens or he’ll have to play the season under the $7.7 million franchise tag.
Rice, who handed out $20 bills to kids for dancing and doing push-ups on the stage Friday, jokingly asked those in attendance to return the favor and call Ravens general manager Ozzie Newsome and “tell him to pay me.”
He was not the only Raven to deliver that message Friday. After learning that New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees, who also was franchised, had agreed to a five-year, $100 million deal that reportedly includes an NFL-record $60 million in guaranteed money, Rice’s fullback, Vonta Leach, wrote on his Twitter account: “Now I’m waiting for [Rice] to get his money he deserves. #cutthecheck.”
Rice declined to elaborate on the ongoing negotiations between the Ravens and his agent, Todd France, saying “I’m actually here for the bullying thing.”
Rice, 25, has emerged as a spokesman for anti-bullying, speaking at several events, including two in Howard County. The running back said he was motivated to speak out after learning of the death of Howard County teen Grace McComas, who committed suicide on Easter Sunday after being the victim of online bullying.
"Well you know after I heard about the story about the little girl losing her life over somebody's words, you can't imagine somebody's life being taken over words. I live by the creed that sticks and stones they break your bones, but words can never hurt you. In this case, words killed somebody," Rice said. "When you think about it, we all put ourselves in somebody's shoes, a different family's shoes. Whether we have kids or not, we can feel that family's pain. I felt that pain and I felt like it's time for me to be a voice out there. In another situation, you're talking about retaliation. That's not the kind of retaliation that you need in this kind of situation. It's getting your voice out there to help any other situation."