Ray Rice Has Taken Every Step He Can To Earn A Second Chance In The NFL
On Tuesday, many a headline read: "the Cleveland Browns have discussed signing Ray Rice."
Ordinarily, the idea of a team showing what seems to be a passing interest in a player would be headline news.
But Ray Rice, of course, is no ordinary player.
He is a 28-year-old NFL veteran who's won a Super Bowl and has three Pro Bowl appearances to his name without a team to showcase his talents for.
Most of this, needless to say, is due to the fact that Rice has become the reference point whenever the topic of domestic violence is discussed in public.
It's to the point that the former star's name has become synonymous with hitting women.
When it comes to actual performance on the field, there are legitimate concerns to be had over a running back who has been both away from football for over a year and underperformed during his last active season, albeit while playing through injury.
That much can't be denied.
But the general consensus is that no team will want the inevitable "distraction" and extra, non-football related attention that will come.
The risk of a team being immediately (and, perhaps, unfairly) associated with domestic abuse is not worth whatever reward a rejuvenated Ray Rice could bring, it appears.
And still, high profile journalists who have covered Rice closely along with anti-domestic violence groups that have worked with running back have been vocal in stating Ray Rice deserves a second chance, with the premise being that he took practically every visible step possible on his road to redemption.
An NFL from office staffer told ESPN W's Jane McManus,
In many ways, he did everything we asked of him.
That, too, is pretty much undeniable.
Rice has completed the pre-trial intervention program that he agreed to as part of a settlement that prevented his domestic violence case from going to trial. He made this agreement even though there was no risk of facing jail time.
He's become an ally of numerous anti-domestic violence groups. He's taken full responsibility of his actions and committed to being a voice of domestic abuse for the long haul.
He's also avoided the easy out, which is pointing out the very convenient (but very legitimate) fact that offenders who have done worse and have been less remorseful (ex: Greg Hardy) have been welcomed back into the league.
Though we can never predict what goes on in the Rice household, from what he can see, there is a man who had one documented episode of domestic violence and fully cooperated throughout his redemption process, all with the full support of his wife and her parents.
Besides the discussion of whether or not Rice has met some undefined standard of what it takes to "deserve" a second chance, though, there's a real purpose some people see in the former Ravens standout having more of a spotlight.
Tony Porter of A Call To Men, an anti-domestic violence organization, told McManus,
I believe he has a very, very important message. Men have to be part of the solution for ending sexual assault and domestic violence. If women could have done it on their own, they would have done it already. A man like Ray Rice, with his influence as a professional football player... [he can] have an impact on ending domestic violence.
The idea that Ray Rice should be forgiven, and his transgressions forgotten, might not be one that everyone can agree with. And that's understandable.
But there's plenty of good to be done in allowing more publicity to be given to the positive aspect of this difficult story.
I'm a regular Joe, I talk to boys and they listen. If Ray Rice talks to boys, they will line up to listen. With Ray Rice being remorseful and humble about it since the incident, he's positioned to take a terrible, terrible act and make a huge impact.
Whether or not Rice will get his second chance remains to be seen, but in doing all the right things along the road to redemption, he's shown what purpose he can fulfill if he gets it.