Former Ravens running back Ray Rice wins the appeal of his NFL suspension and is immediately able to sign with a team. The Sun's Childs Walker reports.
The only time we'll have to see Ray Rice at M&T Bank Stadium is if he's playing for the Ravens' opponent. The days of Rice flexing his biceps and Rice Halloween costumes are gone. We won't have to hear about Rice conspiracies or controversies much longer.
Rice's seven-year association with Baltimore won't really be over until another team signs him, but arbitrator Barbara S. Jones made that possible when she reinstated Rice on Friday after he missed 12 weeks of the 2014 season. Rice was suspended indefinitely by NFL commissioner Roger Goodell on Sept. 8.
Rice probably won't be signed until the offseason, but at least the Ravens can get out from under the ridicule and embarrassment of the star running back who has become the national symbol against domestic violence.
Now with this chapter closed, hopefully Rice will straighten out his life. Few in the media know him well, but he always appeared to be a decent and generous person.
After coming to Baltimore as a second-round pick out of Rutgers in the 2008 draft, Rice was a standout performer on and off the field. Until the incident involving his fiancee — now his wife — Janay, Rice appeared at numerous charity events and was a top spokesman for anti-bullying campaigns in Maryland.
But there was a noticeable change in his demeanor after the Ravens won the Super Bowl in 2012. His ego got bigger and he alienated teammates and coaches. By the end of the 2013 season, he was easily one of the most disliked players on offense.
But Rice's downfall didn't start in 2012. It started when a quiet and humble rookie player began hanging around stars Ray Lewis and Ed Reed. A lot of young players make that mistake. They emulate the stars and want to attain the same icon status, but very few are as engaging or as charismatic. Even fewer become Hall of Famers.
When Lewis and Reed left in 2012, others tried to replace them, including outside linebacker Terrell Suggs and Rice. They both failed. Suggs was able to recover. Rice wasn't.
Combined with his struggles on the field, Rice was different. Did it affect his behavior at home? Maybe. Maybe not.
But maybe the old Rice has returned. There are some who believe that he was treated unfairly by the Ravens and Goodell, but Rice got what he deserved. Life isn't always fair, but there are always consequences to our actions, regardless of whether those actions are good or bad.
Was the NFL wrong in punishing him twice? Yes. Was he used by the NFL to stem negative publicity? Yes.
But here is the bottom line: Rice caused his own problems by knocking his fiancee unconscious in a New Jersey casino elevator; video of the blow was seen by millions.
It is ironic because Rice has always been a smart man who could turn on the charm when needed. He is personable and always showed he had big heart. There are so many stories that will never be told about how he has helped others, especially children.
He is driven by being able to help and motivate others, which is why he will make a strong comeback. Perseverance is not a strange concept to Rice, a little man playing a big man's game.
He'll spend the offseason going on an apology tour and public awareness campaign. He'll work out harder than ever because he wants to prove that his poor season in 2013 was an aberration.
But most importantly, Rice will succeed because he has a lot of good qualities.
The league also has learned a valuable lesson. Instead of using the social network to make money, they should use it as a way to gauge public concern about certain issues and take preventive actions instead of reactive ones.
You can be assured that stricter punishments will be enforced involving players and domestic violence.
The Ravens will do the same. This issue has been a black cloud over the organization for nearly a year now, and they want to move on. In some ways they have. Few players talk about Rice anymore. On the field, Justin Forsett has replaced him and become one of the better running backs in the NFL.
Rice's name will soon appear on another jersey, not on the purple-and-white ones associated with Baltimore.