Nearly three full years have passed since Ray Rice last suited up for a professional football team. Yesterday, when Rice made a homecoming trip to play in a charity basketball game in Baltimore, he said he still doesn’t quite yet see the light at the end of the tunnel for his career.
Rice, formerly a three-time Pro Bowl running back for the Baltimore Ravens, came down to play in fellow former Raven Torrey Smith’s sixth annual charity basketball game at Royal Farms Arena. When asked before the game about his desire to get back in the league, Rice told media, “The reason why I’m not playing football, you do the dots. It ain’t because I’m a bad football player. That’s just keeping it real. I’m never giving up and never giving in.”
For those who managed to forget, the Ravens let go of Rice in September 2014 after videos surfaced of him assaulting his fiancée (now his wife) in a casino elevator in Atlantic City, N.J. After striking her and appearing to knock her out, Rice was seen dragging her out of the elevator. The incident happened seven months before the videos became public.
Shortly after TMZ published the videos, the Ravens released their starting running back and the NFL suspended him indefinitely.
The aftermath wasn’t quite as ugly as the assault incident itself, though it did sting and loomed heavily over the league. Rice won an appeal months after he was barred from the NFL to be let back into the league. He also sued the Ravens franchise for backpay. Both parties eventually settled out of court. On the criminal side of his case, a judge opted to drop the domestic violence charges against Rice in May 2015.
But despite those small wins, he hasn’t been able to return to the field, even though he’s appeared to be in prime shape and willing to play. Rumors circulated last year that Rice could have made a return to the NFL at some point this past season, but it didn’t happen. The NFL also reportedly considered adding him to their corporate offices as a spokesman, but that also didn’t happen.
Rice has attempted to make amends for his behavior, apologizing publicly, speaking to aspiring and new NFLers about the issue of domestic violence and even offering last year to donate all of his salary to an organization that assists domestic violence victims if a team were to sign him. Ravens owner Steve Bisciotti and a domestic violence group went to bat for him by saying the NFL should give him another chance, but teams appear to still be wary of letting his very troubled past go.
The ex-Raven, who married his fiancée weeks after knocking her out in February 2014, said yesterday that he has other things on his plate if not a resurgent NFL career. “I got two beautiful kids, beautiful wife and family that I’m going to continue to take care of,” he said.
Rice joined Smith and others for the annual basketball game raising money for the Torrey Smith Family Fund, which seeks to “provide youth with the tools they need to identify, unleash, and reach their full potential,” per the charity’s website.
WJZ reports other former Ravens like Ed Reed, Tyrod Taylor and Jacoby Jones were also there and had a chance to catch up with one another.