Last Blog Ever on Ray Rice (for Today)

“If I never play football again… I would adapt into life & I would sacrifice more so she can have a better future.” -Ray Rice to Matt Lauer (via Twitter)

Ray Rice has been eased off the hook by the NFL, the legal system, his wife, and presumably Matt Lauer of the Today Show. He has started to cleanse his image with the help of a PR machine churning away slowly Ray Ricein the background.

He also sent another tweet to Matt Lauer: “I take full responsibility for my actions.”

It is a nice sentiment, sandwiched between sorrow for not apologizing to his wife and asking everyone for a second chance. The problem is that this flurry of tweets and apologies has come on December 2, 2014, while the elevator incident in question occurred in mid-August. Better late than never.

I will assume that Ray Rice is being completely sincere and open. I will assume his wife and her family have forgiven him. I can’t get inside the hearts and minds of people; I can only hope that people open their minds to live good ethical lives.

Facing two problems

The sports grapevine, the collective chatter attributable to no one in particular but to every sports news source in general, seems to hint at interest in Ray Rice from four teams. The teams are not identified, and when a name is mentioned, there are quick denials. Hence, problem number one. Ray Rice will come to any team with more baggage than Paris Hilton about to take an around the world ocean voyage.

What team will take a chance on him? It is late in the season. The better teams are pretty well set, and the lousy teams have nothing to gain. For a lousy team to bring him on, especially a team that is experiencing a lot of empty seats, is it worth it?

We have stayed away from the topic of “Ferguson” with intention. From an ethical standpoint, it is nothing but tragic. It is so tragic, that even if there are rock-solid ethical truths no one wants to face them because of all that has gone before. The only thing to solve the problem is for good minds to come together and to sit down and talk and reason and to understand the things that bind us together as humans. By reasonable minds I am excluding most of the media, politicians and so-called “leaders,” who are thrilled to fan the flames.

If Ray Rice returns to football – and he probably will, is the team and the NFL and the team’s sponsors and the women (especially) who support that team willing to forgive Ray Rice for his actions? Domestic violence has been another of the NFL’s dirty little secrets. The “culture” overlooked such violence for many years and in August 2014, with the hotel elevator videotape, the dirty little secret got aired out. Will he be a reminder of things no one wanted to deal with for decades?

If Ray Rice returns to football – and he probably will, will there be protest? If not, why not? If the multiple tragedies that “Ferguson” brought created such havoc, what then of domestic violence where for decades in the NFL witnessed vicious assault against women up to and including murder – and did nothing?

The first problem will be one of acceptance.

The second problem is “Father Time.” It stops for no one. Ray Rice was not the same player at the beginning of this year, who tore up the league in years past. His productivity dropped to about 3.0 yards per carry, making him mediocre at best. He has plenty of competition from younger bodies, fresher bodies and bodies who did not hit their wives and girlfriends.

This leads us, once again, to choices and consequences.

A Ray Rice who chose to assault his girlfriend made a choice. Had he not made that choice, it might have bought him a year or two more and perhaps a contract renewal, even as a backup.

Now he has lost time, lost a step and carries baggage.

Ultimately, he may be able to earn a backup role and he may even show an occasional flash of brilliance, but his time may simply be passing. Running backs have a limited on-the-field life. No one escapes time and no one ever escapes a bad choice.

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