Ray Rice Deserves A Second Chance...Just Not With Janay Rice

Andrew Burton/Getty Images
Andrew Burton/Getty Images

In the next couple of months, former Baltimore Ravens running back Ray Rice will continue to receive interest from NFL teams. In fact, there are a few teams who've reportedly already discussed the prospect of bringing him in. Someone — or several someones — will likely eventually invite him to their team's facility for an extensive interview, where Rice will say all the right things. He will be earnest, sincere, and contrite. At least one of these interviews will lead to a physical, where the people who make football decisions will determine if Rice is a valuable enough football player to deal with the inevitable fallout of signing him to their team. If history is any indication, he will not be. Rice hasn't played football in almost a year, and his last full season was one of the worst seasons for a running back in NFL history. He is also 27, and most NFL running backs start to see a sharp decline in their skills at that age. At his 2013 level of production, there are dozens of running backs with much less baggage who can replicate what he brings to the table.

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But, all it takes is one decision maker to decide that Rice is valuable enough to sign. When that happens (and yes, it is going to eventually happen), some high-level team representative — maybe a general manager, maybe a head coach, maybe even an owner — will speak to the press about it, and will likely say something about Rice "deserving a second chance." Many will think this is bullshit, that Rice's deed was so abhorrent that he lost the privilege of a second chance. And they will be wrong. As upset as some people might be about this, there is nothing wrong with him getting a second chance at pursuing a career that will likely end in the next 2 to 4 years. From all the information we're currently aware of, Rice's act of violence was a one time thing. He apparently has also been completely forthright and honest about what happened that night. He has not proven to be a repeat offender, he faced substantial legal and financial consequences for his act, and he seems to be taking responsibility for it.

But, being deserving of a second chance does not apply to his relationship with his wife.

The Rice family (Ray, Janay, and both of her parents) appeared on the TODAY Show with Matt Lauer this morning. Lauer spoke with Janay Rice the day before, and informed Ray of a question he asked Janay:

Ray, I had to ask her directly. I said, 'Janay, other than that incident we saw on that video tape was there ever a moment in this marriage or this relationship before or after that where you were the victim of abuse?'

Rice's reply:

I truly understand that, and one thing you learn is that, you know, we weren't in a perfect relationship. No relationship is perfect. We've had arguments, but when you talk about abuse, you know, that's something that we know that we'd never cross that path. But then did we say things to each other that we want to take back at times? Yeah, we crossed that line before, but it never got to an altercation where it went that far.

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Basically, he's saying they've had heated arguments before, but the physical assault on his wife was a one-time thing. And you know what? I believe him. I also believe it's possible for a person with no history of violence to snap once and never do it again, and I'll give him the benefit of the doubt when he says he'll never hit her again.

But Janay Rice is married to a man who does not love her and does not respect her. Perhaps he'll never abuse her again, but he does not cherish her the way a wife is supposed to be cherished by her husband.

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Again, lets concede that Rice punching his wife was a one time thing. And, lets even concede that it's possible for someone to do something like that and still be in love and make complete amends for what happened. But, forget about the punch. What convinced me of Rice's lack of love and respect for the woman he's now married to is what I saw after he punched her. It's his immediate non-reaction to possibly severely injuring the mother of his child. It's him dragging her out of the elevator like a package of dog food that's too heavy to carry. It's him not even bothering to adjust her skirt while she was unconscious, leaving her private parts exposed for anyone in the hallway to see. Nothing about his behavior suggested the type of "Holy shit! What have I just done???" reaction a man would exhibit if he was actually in love and this was actually a completely uncharacteristic instance of him just snapping.

Maybe Janay Rice is aware of this. Maybe she isn't. Who knows? I'm not here to talk about why she decided to stay. Her reasons are her reasons. I do know this, though. Ray Rice deserves a second chance at an NFL career. Will he get it? Who knows? He did, however, get a second chance with Janay Rice. Did he deserve that? Hell no.

Damon Young is the editor-in-chief of VSB, a contributing opinion writer for The New York Times, and the author of What Doesn't Kill You Makes You Blacker (Ecco/HarperCollins)

DISCUSSION

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Larry Legend

I've never posted before, but I have got to say something. I really do think its disgusting how people are projecting their own thoughts and beliefs on to a person who JUST finished answering all those questions.
Until she says otherwise im going to take her at her word. She's married to him, she has a strong family behind her. She has every avenue to leave if she truly wanted to(she can take half the money). She has family support and if she ever did decide to leave she would have the support of most of the country. Alot of the stereotypical reasons women have that cause them to stay, just arent apparent here. They just aren't. She no reality star, and she has no interest in putting herself in the spotlight. She's no golddigger.
She does not want to be a victim, she does not want to speak for domestic violence victims and shed a light on the issue, and she doesnt want to leave him. All of that is her decision to make. Sorry she doesnt want to forward OTHER people political agendas.
Who is anyone to tell her who she should and shouldnt love and who she should and shouldnt give a second chance?
People need to stop judging her and telling her what she should and shouldnt do. Period. Everyone is entitled to their opinion but alot of people are just going to far, Like really, people are really trying to define her like they know her better then her, her parents, and ray rice. You dont.
And to people who says he didnt seem like he was having an "oh shyt" moment. Im sorry, alot of people dont visibly panic during or after tough/crazy/shocking incidents. If my house catches on fire, I hope a firefighter doesnt bust in and start panicking saying the fire is hot.