After becoming the face of the NFL's domestic-violence problem in 2014, Ray Rice remains persona non grata in the league, unable to get a tryout even after three Pro Bowl seasons with the Ravens.
But it's that fall from grace that perhaps makes him a perfect face for the NFL's social responsibility education. Rice told USA Today that he has taped an interview for what will be a two- to three-minute "video conversation" in the social responsibility program to be presented to teams this May.
"I just think there's so much more to learn from my situation," Rice told USA Today columnist Christine Brennan. "My story is a real story. Part of life's journey is just being able to tell my story now. A lot of men think, 'It can't happen to me.' Well, I had a clean slate and it all came down to a terrible split-second decision. I want these guys to learn from it. I want them to be better for it. I want them to be better men."
The NFL program, now in its fourth year — it was devised in the wake of Rice's and other players' scandals — also includes a discussion with former Ravens wide receivers Steve Smith Sr. and Torrey Smith (Maryland), who grew up in violent households.
But it is Rice's words that "will resonate with everyone in the NFL," said NFL senior vice president of social responsibility Anna Isaacson. The Ravens invited him to the team's headquarters last May to speak to the team's rookies, and he has shared his message with teams ranging from a New Jersey high school powerhouse to Ohio State, talking about how one night in a casino can have far-reaching consequences.
"The one thing I can't and won't do is back down from my story," Rice told USA Today. "It's a pretty big goal to have, to change how men treat women, but that's my journey. Whether it's in the NFL video or the groups I speak with, I never sugarcoat what happened. I take full responsibility. I went down the wrong path and I was not man enough to ask for help. I want others to not make the mistakes I made."