Ravens fans showed support for running back Ray Rice when he took the field for Monday night’s open workout at M&T; Bank Stadium, but they seemed to recognize that an outsized ovation would not be appropriate in the wake of the domestic assault incident that led to a two-game NFL suspension.
Rice got applause from segments of the crowd as he moved past several sections of the stands after entering the playing field, then got a bigger, general ovation when he was shown for the first time on the video board. He responded by saluting the stands and patting his patting his chest.
There were no discernible boos, but the volume of his reception was not significantly louder than the ovations for some of the other popular players featured on the videoscreen.
Obviously, he has much more work to do to make amends for the incident and repair his image, but he seemed comfortable on the sidelines, where he interacted playfully with some of the young children on the field and – at one point – engaged in a footrace with one of them.
Though there had been plenty of speculation about how he would be received, it was not surprising that he got a friendly response from the friendly crowd of Ravens fans attending the free workout, autograph session and fireworks show.
Baltimore fans are a loyal lot, but they aren’t to be taken for granted. When former Orioles star Brian Roberts returned to Camden Yards for the first time since signing with the New York Yankees, he received an almost blase response when he stepped to the plate for the first time. When reliever Jim Johnson made an appearance here for the Oakland A’s, there were even some boos when he took the mound against his old teammates on June 7.
That was surprising, considering that Johnson saved 101 games over the previous two seasons and didn’t leave on his own accord. Fans apparently had not forgotten his rocky performance in the 2012 playoffs or his major-league-leading nine blown saves last year.
Rice probably can expect a positive reception in Baltimore when he returns from his suspension, but he can expect to get an earful from opposing fans when the Ravens are on the road.