Rice, Ray

Card: Score 2009
Acquired: COMC, 2020
Failure: TTM 2018, C/o Home

Ray Rice is a cautionary tale- as he stands as one of the early examples of cancel culture.

Ray Rice was an ascending star in college football for the Scarlet Knights from 2005-2007. Over his time playing for Rutgers, Ray proved he could handle the workload, rushing 910 times, for 4926 yards and 49 TDs. Ray also caught 37 passes for 334 yards and a TD. He was selected in the second round of the 2008 NFL Draft by the Baltimore Ravens.

After a respectable rookie season, in which he rushed for 454 yards, Ray took over the starting job at RB full-time for the Ravens. Over the next 4 seasons he’d rush for over 5,000 yards, while totaling nearly 2,500 yards receiving. Ray led the NFL in rushing TDs in 2011 with 12, and earned Pro Bowls nods for his efforts in 2009, 2011, and 2012, and well as second team All-Pro honors in 2009 and 2011.

Ray’s 2011 season culminated in 2,068 yards from scrimmage (1,364 yards rushing and 804 yards receving) to lead the NFL. After rushing for another 1,000+ yard season in 2012, Ray was oft-injured in 2013, causing him to miss the 1000 yard plateau for the second time in his career. Shortly thereafter the wheels would fall off his career.

Celebrity news gossip spread about a video of Ray assaulting his then fiancée in Atlantic City. It spread to social media, and it was not a good look for Rice, the NFL or the Ravens. Forget that Ray was extremely giving over his career and that he was voted Baltimore’s Most Charitable Person of 2012, or that he’d been extremely active in homeless assistance, Make-A-Wish foundation, and cyberbullying prevention- he was in the crosshairs of social media justice, and he’d be judged only by what happened.

Sure, it was a bad video. There’s just no excuse for beating a woman. And the price was making a very popular player in Ray Rice- a virtual pariah.
The backlash was severe. He’d be suspended by the NFL, and eventually cut by the Ravens. Because of what happened, to Rice’s then fiancée, the silver lining is the NFL has become more attuned to domestic violence issues, and more consistent in their investigation and punishment that they dole out.

Rice for his part continued training- hoping for another shot, but it never came. Instead, much to his credit, Rice spends much of his time speaking to athletes about domestic violence. He also remains quite active in charitable giving, but eschews the limelight, wanting to be judged by his deeds, not by his airtime.

Even today, Ray’s name is associated negatively with domestic violence. When I decided to get his autograph, many of my friends asked why. – And to that I think it’s important to understand the context, and fabric of football, good and bad that our players embody. I hope eventually people will forgive and forget Ray Rice, because everybody deserves a second chance.