After scandal, Rice eyes another shot with the NFL

AP Photo Rice, right, walks off the field before addressing media at a news conference.

David Borne | Staff Writer

Just two weeks into the NFL regular season, and several teams have already watched their top running backs become sidelined by injuries.

The list of the injured ball carriers includes Danny Woodhead, who is out for the rest of the season with a torn ACL; Adrian Peterson, who is expected to miss a significant amount of time with a torn meniscus; and Ameer Abdullah, who will likely be out a handful of weeks after suffering an ankle injury this past Sunday.

More injuries are sure to come. Being an NFL running back is a grueling job, and every year we see a countless number of running backs hit the sideline due to injury. Teams will need somebody to fill the vacant roster spots.

AP Photo Rice, right, walks off the field before addressing media at a news conference.
AP Photo
Rice, right, walks off the field before addressing media at a news conference.

As teams scramble to find replacements, one question remains: Is it time that a franchise gives in and signs free agent Ray Rice?

Rice, who was one of the league’s top rushers for several years, hasn’t seen the field since 2014 when the infamous video of him assaulting his former fiancee, and now wife, in an elevator was released to the public.

Rice was released by the Baltimore Ravens and suspended by the NFL as a result of his actions. He has since been reinstated.

From 2009-12, opposing teams struggled to contain Rice. He had four straight seasons with over 1,000 yards rushing and scored 33 touchdowns in that time span. In 2013, his last on an NFL roster, his numbers declined significantly. He rushed for only 660 yards, which was his lowest total since his rookie season. On top of that, he only managed to score four touchdowns.

Ray Rice is now starving for another opportunity in the NFL. Every once in awhile, footage of his intense training sessions is released in an effort to impress an NFL team. He has apologized profusely for his actions and has even gone as far as vowing that he will donate his entire salary to domestic violence related charities if he is signed by an NFL team this season.

His scarred past is not the only concern NFL teams have about Rice. He’s old. He’s 29 and hasn’t seen any sort of game action in years. He has likely lost a step or two, can’t take the same level of damage as he used to and may not put up numbers anywhere near what he accomplished when he was at the top of his game with the Ravens. Teams may also view him as a distraction and not want to put up with all the media craziness that would come along with him.

On the flip side, Rice could be a low-risk-high-reward signing for an NFL team. His contract would be relatively cheap, and he could potentially contribute a decent amount to an offense. In the event that Rice comes back strong, any team will be pleased with the value they get from him. I’m sure a team with low expectations this year would be willing to take a shot. Rice could be worth all of the baggage and media attention that he comes with.

The thought of Rice getting another NFL contract isn’t as absurd as it seems. Just look at Adam Jones, who is a captain for the Cincinnati Bengals and has been arrested an absurd nine times.

Or look at Aldon Smith, who has been arrested five times and is still on the Oakland Raiders roster. How about Donte Stallworth, a wide receiver who managed to play three NFL seasons after his conviction for manslaughter. A general manager’s morals rarely get in the way of offering a former criminal a contract if it helps his team win.

What Ray Rice did to his fiancee in the elevator was unforgivable. Anyone who has seen the video of the domestic assault has that image ingrained in their mind. By no means am I condoning his actions.

Reiterating my point from earlier, I don’t think the idea of him getting another shot in the NFL is preposterous. The NFL is a business, a business that revolves around results. If a team thinks Rice will help them get the results they need, they will sign him.

In a league that has been more than accepting of welcoming back felons of all kinds, I do believe Ray Rice will find a spot on an NFL roster this season, whether it’s ethical or not.