Rice will be on the coaching staff for one of the two teams competing in the NFLPA Collegiate Bowl this week in California, coaching the running backs alongside former Ravens running back Priest Holmes in the showcase game for draft-eligible college players.
Carl Francis, director of communications for the NFL Players Association, said the union has programs for former players who want to get into coaching and player development. Some of the coaches in the Collegiate Bowl are selected by head coaches Mike Martz and Mike Holmgren, while others are fed to the showcase game through that program.
Rice falls into the latter category, Francis said.
"He wanted to get back into coaching, stay a part of the game, so yeah, why not?" Francis said.
The former star running back hasn’t been back in the NFL since September 2014, when he was released by the Ravens and suspended indefinitely by the league after video was released of him assaulting his then-fiance, Janay Palmer, in an Atlantic City casino elevator in February of that year.
Initially, Rice was suspended by the NFL for two games, but the league’s handling of that case came under scrutiny. Since he won his appeal of the suspension and the league reinstated him in November 2014, Rice has stayed in shape in an attempt to get back into the NFL, but no team has even brought him in for a workout.
Francis said that Rice's background didn't play a part in him being selected, and wasn't a consideration when the coaches were assigned.
"For us, that wasn’t a part of the decision," Francis said. "A part of our decision was giving players a chance to be a part of a profession they’re interested in. … What’s better for them to participate in than our collegiate All-Star game?"
Francis said participating in the coaching program would not preclude Rice from returning to an active roster if a team decides to sign him.
Rice will coach on Martz's staff. The teams will hold four practices this week before Saturday’s game at the StubHub Center in Carson, Calif.