Former Baltimore Ravens running back Ray Rice knows he may never play another down of football. But if he does get another chance, Rice is vowing to make the most of it.
I'm not saying I willingly deserve a second chance. I'm not. But I will say that if there was one guy who took his situation and owned it from day one, doing everything he can to make his wrongs right, taking care of his family and trying to spread a message of how domestic violence cannot be tolerated ... Any violence of any kind is wrong, but domestic violence, there is no place for it ... I'm out spreading that message because of everything I've been through. I don't want to see anyone else go through anything like what me and my wife went through, but I'm willing to help, man, and I know being in an NFL locker room what I can do to help a young man.
Rice, 29, last played in the NFL in 2013. The Ravens released him in September 2014 after video of him punching his wife in a casino elevator leaked online. The NFL suspended Rice indefinitely but later lost that ruling in an appeals court because of double jeopardy; Rice has been eligible to return since November 2014.
No team has brought Rice in for an official workout since. He's essentially been blackballed, an understandable circumstance given the nature of his crime. But Rice has been consistently contrite since the incident, running counter to the likes of Greg Hardy, who got a second chance with the Dallas Cowboys in 2015.
The Cleveland Browns briefly considered bringing in Rice last season, but the deal was quashed by ownership.
"My agents went back and forth with those guys (the Browns)," Rice said. "I don't want to say it was that close, but my deal is a lot different than other guys. I totally understand that, and I'm not sitting up here pounding my chest saying, 'Yeah, I deserve a second chance.' But I would be grateful if I had the opportunity to go out there and finish this chapter the right way.
Cleveland has dealt with the off-field troubles of Josh Gordon and Johnny Manziel in recent years, so it's understandable that ownership would want to shy away from further distractions. More than two years removed from his arrest, though, Rice said he hopes time has alleviated some of the vitriol.
"Time does heal a lot of things, and time definitely helped me out when I was going through a rough patch in life. I just didn't know which way to go, because football was my everything, and once I realized my family was still there for me, and I still had loved ones that care about me, it brought me out of that rough time, and now my day-to-day living is fine," Rice said, per La Canfora.
In July, Rice told Tom Pelissero of USA Today he would donate his entire salary to domestic violence organizations if signed. He has also become an outspoken advocate of domestic violence awareness, going to speaking engagements to talk about his case.
He told Coleman and La Canfora how important it is to speak out:
I do understand that we live in a society where public opinion matters, and I know I can't change everyone's opinion, but the few people that run into me, the people that talk to me, I'm not running from it. We can engage in discussions. I will tell you my biggest flaws, and I will tell you my greatest triumphs, and that's what you're going to get. I am an open book. What do you want to know about me? And that's where I'm at now.
Rice has rushed for 6,180 yards and 37 touchdowns in six NFL seasons. He is a three-time Pro Bowler and two-time All-Pro, all coming with the Ravens.
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