Culture of Hoops

Signing Ray Rice is a Tricky Situation for Any Team

Image courtesy of Keith Allison/Flickr.

Image courtesy of Keith Allison/Flickr.

Most ESPN mobile alerts deal with nonsense such as Johnny Manziel‘s daily actions or how many shots Kobe Bryant took in the Los Angeles Lakers’ latest loss, but one came through on Friday afternoon that really caught me by surprise. It stated that Ray Rice, notorious domestic abuser, will be free to sign with any team. The end of his indefinite suspension is not really the part that causes possible controversy, as it was clear that there was something off about how Roger Goodell handled the whole situation.

The possible controversy comes when a team offers Ray Rice a contract. I wish it was an “if” rather than a “when,” but it is very likely that some team will offer Rice a contract. Perhaps not this season, but next season, for sure. (If Al Davis was still alive, it is very possible that Rice would already be an Oakland Raider).

Putting all the conspiracies and cover-ups aside, whoever signs Rice will be in for a great deal of protest. Not from the NFL, but from the local community and also activist groups nationwide.

The main issue with anyone signing Ray Rice is that they will be going against everything the NFL is standing for in their “No More” commercials. The commercials, which speak out against domestic violence, came as a reactionary response to Rice’s actions. But even still, they speak out against a crime that is unforgivable. Second chances are deserved, but they must be earned. That takes time, and Rice has simply done nothing to deserve that chance yet.

Back to the “No More” campaign. There is the commercial everyone has seen.


There is a new commercial from the campaign that really should prevent Rice from being signed to any team. It features several players, including Cris Carter and Eli Manning, struggling to pull it together before talking for their take in commercial. Now this is a very powerful piece of work in a marketing sense, but it still something that shows just how tough it is for some to talk about domestic violence.

If it is so hard to talk about, then someone who has put the league in a negative light by committing an act that the league is speaking out against should not be allowed back unless he joins the campaign in some manner. It certainly is too soon for Rice to appear on any commercials about domestic violence as they would surely become a national punchline – no pun intended – but he must do some work to repair his image. Work that does not scream, “Look at me I’m volunteering cause I want to improve my image,” but rather work done out of the spotlight that helps victims of a act Rice (hopefully) wishes he never committed.

So what if a team signs Rice in the next week or two? Will that team really air commercials speaking out against Rice’s actions, and then cut back to replays of him on the field? I would not doubt it in a league run by Goodell, but I hope league owners show a little more respect for fans of the NFL.

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