There has been a flurry of injuries at the running back position this season in the NFL. The Chiefs, Steelers, 49ers, and Cowboys have all suffered losses in their respective backfields. My question is why hasn’t embattled former Raven Ray Rice received so much as a look from these teams?
The 49ers lost Reggie Bush this past Sunday, and signed Shaun Draughn, who has 264 yards on 75 carries in his four-year career. The Steelers lost Le’Veon Bell to a nasty MCL tear, and subsequently signed four-year veteran Isaiah Pead (78 yards on 19 career carries).
The Chiefs have found in-house replacements in Charcandrick West and Knile Davis for Jamal Charles, and the Cowboys have yet to sign another back after cutting troubled Joseph Randle, amidst an NFL investigation for a domestic dispute (they have enough on their hands with Greg Hardy).
But Isaiah Pead and Shaun Draughn? Come on, 49ers and Steelers. Lets review Rice’s credentials here and put the domestic violence fiasco to the side for the moment. Rice is a three-time pro bowler and four-time 1,000-yard rusher with 43 career touchdowns. And he doesn’t even receive a tryout?
Let me make this perfectly clear, I am not disregarding or ignoring last year’s incident between Rice and his now wife, Janay. It was awful, and as always, video evidence is damning and he paid the price. Rice has suffered enough.
He became the poster boy for an NFL domestic violence public relations disaster. Roger Goodell, the worst commissioner in professional sports, butchered the handling of the situation from the beginning. Rice has garnered virtually no interest from NFL teams since his Sept. 2014 release from the Baltimore Ravens, despite NFL sources saying they would support a return.
I find it shocking in a country that loves forgiving individuals that Ray Rice has not been given a second chance, considering the openings available. I mean Greg Hardy got a second chance, right? Hell, even Ray McDonald got a second chance with the Bears until he found himself in legal trouble once again. What’s the difference between McDonald/Hardy and Rice?
The difference is McDonald and Hardy can get to the quarterback, a commodity in the NFL. Sure, Rice is an above average running back, but he also has six seasons of wear on his body and only averaged 3.1 yards per carry in 2013. He is not worth the media attention he would garner if a team were to sign him. Right or wrong, the risk outweighs the reward in his case.
Hardy has three sacks and a pick in three games played for the Cowboys this season, and Jerry Jones can be seen smiling like a proud father from his press box every time he makes a play. Hardy’s questionable quotes, antics on the sideline, and budding rap career are bypassed and ignored, simply because the man can rush the passer. He does it so well the Cowboys are even thinking contract extension.
That is the difference. Winning trumps everything in this result-based league. Don’t let Goodell and Jones deceive you, the league can execute a full-fledged PR overhaul complete with commercials, testimonials and sponsors condemning domestic violence, but in the end it’s just a façade to cover up the reality of it all. Winning is everything, and the Hardy situation proves this statement to be true.
Hardy will sign his extension, make millions, and Ray Rice will be left on the outside looking in. Rice has been working vigorously to repair his image, meanwhile Hardy continues making headlines for the wrong reasons. It doesn’t matter though, his on-field talent outweighs his cringe worthy quotes and fits of rage.
Ray Rice deserves a second chance in this league, but as more time passes, the chances are increasingly bleak. The likes of Isaiah Pead and Shaun Draughn will continue to get signed over Rice, and the Greg Hardy and Ray McDonalds of the NFL will, sadly, continue to receive second chances.
Sports Chat Co-Founder