Twenty months after the Ravens released him in the wake of his domestic violence incident Ray Rice returned to the team's headquarters and told his story to the organization's rookies.
Rice, who has been out of the NFL since his release in September 2014, watched the Ravens' organized team activity Wednesday and then spoke to the team's newcomers as part of the team's player engagement program.
"Our 27 sessions to our rookies through our player engagement program review and teach life management and life lessons," the Ravens said in a prepared statement. "Ray Rice, who played for the Ravens from 2008 until 2014, delivered an important message that included his story, both the good and the bad. He clearly had the attention of our rookies."
With the Ravens, Rice, a 2008 second-round pick, developed into a three-time Pro Bowl selection, a Super Bowl XLVII champion, and one of the franchise's most popular and productive players. However, his time in Baltimore and likely his NFL career ended after Rice struck his then-fiancee and now wife, Janay Palmer, in the elevator of an Atlantic City, N.J. casino in February 2014.
The Ravens initially stood by Rice until TMZ released a video of the elevator incident in September of that year.
Owner Steve Bisciotti said he held no hard feelings toward Rice, and while he dismissed the possibility of the running back returning to the organization as a player, he left the door open for Rice to eventually return in a player engagement role.
Still, the timing of Ray's return Wednesday is somewhat surprising. It was only 14 months ago that the Ravens were forced to pay Rice $1.588 million as part of the settlement for his wrongful termination grievance he filed against the team.
Rice, though, remains close to the team's director of player development, Harry Swayne, and team chaplain Johnny Shelton. General manager Ozzie Newsome and coach John Harbaugh also have said on several occasions they still consider Rice a friend.
Ravens rookie defensive tackle Willie Henry, a fourth-round pick out of Michigan, told The Sun that Rice discussed his experiences in Baltimore, and what he learned from them.
"He talked to us about being a pro and things like that," Henry said. "… Hearing his experiences about being a pro and things like that — his transition and what he learned from being here, and the guys he looked up to while he was here. Things like that kind of stuck with me."
Jake Lourim contributed to this report.