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.
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?'
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.
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.
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.