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NFL's bad decision doesn't make up for Ray Rice's actions, Ravens fans say

Former Ravens running back Ray Rice's reinstatement to the NFL on Friday was an expected development for many fans in the area, who condemned the assault that resulted in Rice's release and suspension but said Rice was punished twice for the same offense and deserved a second chance.

Former Ravens running back Ray Rice's reinstatement to the NFL on Friday was an expected development for many fans in the area, who condemned the assault that resulted in Rice's release and suspension but said Rice was punished twice for the same offense and deserved a second chance.

"What [Rice] did was wrong," John Eckert, 58, of Dundalk, said at a Purple Friday event at Hightopps Backstage Grille in Timonium. "He was punished one time, he started serving his punishment, and the league came back and said we're going to punish you again. I think it was wrong. … It's like double jeopardy."

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Third-party arbitrator Barbara S. Jones ruled Rice's indefinite suspension, issued moments after the Ravens released the Pro Bowl running back and over a month after he was initially suspended for two games and fined an additional game check, was invalid.

Jones wrote in her decision that the NFL's contention that Rice lied about what happened when he knocked his then-fiancee, Janay Palmer, unconscious in an Atlantic City hotel elevator last February was untrue, and that a second suspension was not justified.

"I think if the NFL had taken its time to begin with and given him a proper suspension, he'd still be on the Ravens and it wouldn't have been the debacle it has been," Eric Blum, 38, of Pikesville, said before a dinner at the Hunt Valley Towne Centre Friday.

Ryan Grew, a season ticket holder who lives in Scottsdale, Ariz., but returned for the San Diego Chargers game Sunday, said the situation made the league look bad, but that was no reason to punish Rice twice.

"I think everyone deserves a second chance, but at the same time, it's too soon" for Rice to come back, Grew said. "The wounds need to heal."

Ashleigh Greaver, a 29-year-old Lutherville-Timonium resident, said the Rice situation didn't impact how she felt about the team. She, too, would like to see him back in football, but said it'd be best to wait until next year.

The reversal of his indefinite suspension was "not unexpected," Blum said, and while he mentioned New England Patriots coach Bill Belichick's ability to reform players with trouble pasts, Blum said he "can't imagine any front office wants to deal with" the fallout of signing Rice.

The passage of time and the Ravens' relative success in his absence seems to have replaced Rice's downfall in many fans' memories, though Eckert said "you can't help but think about" the drama that preceded the Ravens' 2014 season.

Blum said it appears the team hasn't been impacted by his absence, with running back Justin Forsett filling the role previously held by Rice.

"If they were 4-7 instead of 7-4, I'm sure there would be a lot more made of it," Blum said.

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