11/30/14 by Rennie Detore
So that's it. Ray Rice wins his appeal, and his ban from playing in the NFL is lifted.
Everything about the entire Rice saga from beginning to end plays out like a bad made for television movie, where no one can seem to get anything right on the first try.
The NFL banned Rice initially for two games, then changed to it the lifetime sentence from the league. The judge who heard the case of the embattled, former Ravens' running back concluded that Rice never lied about what happened, and the NFL exercised "abuse" of power when they took his two game suspension and thus made it one that lasted forever. The NFL and equally scrutinized and polarizing commissioner Roger Goodell claim the two game suspension was a result of being "misled," but that isn't how the judge saw the chain of events playing out, and thus made Rice available for immediate employment.
The Rice situation and what happened inside that elevator some months ago is horrendous, appalling and cannot be justified on any level. Rice did something overtly heinous and reprehensible, and the idea that he's in a position to return to an NFL field and start earning millions of dollars again is equal parts ludicrous and sad.
Rice doesn't deserve to play this year. In fact, you can argue that he doesn't deserve to play again any time soon. Don't his elevator actions and act of aggression suggest that counseling, community service or some sort of rehabilitation should be more than just empty rhetoric and night school like classes that Rice has to attend.
No offense, but you have to wonder if Rice is going through the motions and quietly is rolling his eyes behind closed doors and just waiting patiently for two things to happen: enough time to pass between this incident and his next NFL job or when a team becomes so desperate at running back that they'll have no choice to at least bring Rice in for a tryout.
What really needs to happen in this situation is for 32 NFL teams to truly stand their ground and make an example out of Rice, the way they couldn't or didn't want to with the likes of Mike Vick and Richie Incognito. Both Vick and Incognito had their off the field issues; Vick is a starter for the New York Jets after his ring of dog fighting and abuse came to light. Incognito apparently harassed and threatened a teammate of his in Miami; he's since been given tryouts by teams who are thin on the offensive line and thick headed to think signing Incognito is in any way prudent.
In case you haven't noticed during this season, the NFL has produced videos that include players to raise awareness about domestic violence as it relates to the league and no longer assuming that this type of action is acceptable.
The ads are done well, but what do they really mean if Rice is standing on a sideline or practice field within a few weeks or even months after his lifetime ban has been lifted. The real issue is the NFL is so big and so powerful, and makes so much money, that it sometimes gets the proverbial "free pass" when it comes to adhering to common sense and morals.
NFL apologists and those justifying a situation like Rice being signed by another team will argue that it's just business on the field and about winning football games.
Maybe this time the NFL will, like any super hero, use its power for good and stand pat against Rice being welcomed back as if nothing ever happened and his five yards per carry average or ability to catch passes out of the backfield for a potential playoff team somehow outweighs his stupidity and obvious character flaws and temper as it relates to abuse of women, in this case his would be wife.
NFL teams, coaches, general managers, owners and brass always are laying down challenges to each other or within the confines of a locker room, mostly as it relates to playing against a rival or winning a big game.
If the NFL wants a real challenge, wash your hands of Ray Rice for good even if he's not suspended and hope that the teams that comprise your league will do the same since ultimately that move not only is best for business but sends a message that winning and championships should never trump standing pat against the inexcusable.
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