"We have been around a lot of abusive men, but our experience with Ray has been tremendously positive," Porter said, per ESPN's Adam Schefter. "We feel strongly about him having the opportunity of having a second chance. He's deserving of it."
Rice, 28, is still without a team after being released by the Ravens early in the 2014 season. A leaked hotel surveillance video from an Atlantic City casino showed him punching his then-fiancee, Janay Palmer, in the face and knocking her unconscious last year. Criminal charges were later dropped when Rice agreed to undergo counseling.
"They would have to be willing to, you know, look deeper into who I am and realize that me and my wife had one bad night, and I took full responsibility for it," Rice told Today last year. "And one thing about my punishment and everything going along with anything that happened is that I've accepted it."
The NFL initially suspended Rice indefinitely, but that was reduced after he won a federal appeal. He and the Ravens have also agreed to a financial settlement regarding his 2014 salary.
Bunch told Schefter that Rice's willingness to take responsibility for his actions led to the group's public support:
He's held himself accountable. He is saying everything that you would want him to say and doing everything that you would want him to do. So why wouldn't he deserve another chance? His work in the area of educating young men is more important than him getting back on the field. He knows that and has said that to us. He is seeing the bigger picture. He has a desire to compete again, but also to make a difference in the world. This is what mistakes should be about: learning from them and teaching others. We've been in front of a lot of batterers. He is as transparent as I've seen, and as sincere as I've seen.
While other players with domestic violence track records (notably Greg Hardy) have received second chances in the NFL, Rice is yet to receive so much as a tryout. His age and the fungibility of the running back position have arguably played a part in his ongoing struggle to find work, especially given his struggles on the field. In 2013, Rice's last NFL season, he rushed for 660 yards on a career-low 3.1 yards per carry.
As training camps open across the league, it's looking increasingly like Rice has played his last NFL down.
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