Never say never about anything, but in the case of Ray Rice, there’s a very good chance he has played his last NFL game, as he enters what will be his third NFL season out of the league.
Rice, a three-time Pro Bowler, with two All-NFL second team selections, hasn’t played since the 2013 season, which is probably his last. He was released by the Ravens in 2014 after a video recording of him punching his then fiancee (now wife) Janay Rice. The NFL and especially Roger Goodell mishandling the situation, with a minor suspension before the video came out, and then changing it after the footage was released, led to a media vs league crisis of faith, putting Goodell on the ropes in terms of public image, and probably among some owners, although he survived the ordeal despite his incompetence.
Is Rice blackballed by Goodell and the league ever since? He might be. But Rice was declining in 2013, finishing with just 660 rushing yards on 214 carries, making it a very quick rise and decline for the player who began his NFL career in 2008, had four consecutive seasons of over 1000 rushing yards, including going over 2000 in scrimmage twice. Teams probably don’t want to touch him due to the domestic violence case, but simply not being a very productive running back anymore helps keep him out of circulation.
Rice isn’t giving up, but knows his window to play in the NFL is almost closed shut. He’s training, but beginning to focus more and more on making amends for what he did. Speaking to college kids, developing football programs for children. He has said he’ll be involved in football in some way, but while he still dreams of playing on some NFL team once again, and despite players getting second and third chances for what they do off the field, it seems that ship has sailed for Rice, leading him down a different path.
I know that the window for playing is closing. But if my window closes, I’m going to make sure I open up a thousand more opportunities for kids, to give them an opportunity to pick up where I left off. That’s where I’m at. I’ve got three Pro Bowls and a Super Bowl. There’s a lot of people that can’t go out there and do what I did. But I don’t want it to end that way, it’s safe to say.