Ravens running back Ray Rice moved closer to putting his legal woes behind him when he was accepted into a diversionary program that could help to clear his record of charges stemming from a physical altercation with his then-fiancee in a New Jersey casino.
Ravens president Dick Cass, one of many team officials who have supported Rice since the incident in February, said Tuesday’s news was positive, but acknowledged that there are several steps the running back still has to take.
“I think what Ray wants to do is talk to the media about the incident, and I think he will do that in the near future,” Cass said following Wednesday’s news conference at the team’s downtown stadium in which the Ravens announced a 10-year, $60 million extension of their partnership with M&T Bank. “He’s got some limits on how much he can talk about, but I think he wants to address the media. And then he’s going to have to talk to the commissioner and the league about what discipline – if any – is going to be imposed on him.”
The NFL has been monitoring the cause under the league’s personal-conduct policy. At some point, Rice will likely get an opportunity to tell his side of the story to NFL commissioner Roger Goodell, who will ultimately decide whether a suspension is warranted, and if so, how long.
Asked about Rice’s potential discipline, Cass said: “That’s entirely up to the commissioner. I wouldn’t even speculate on that. The commissioner will look at the facts, and listen to Ray, and we’ll be there to support Ray. But it will be up to the commissioner.”
Rice, 27, was accused of knocking Janay Palmer unconscious during the altercation, which occurred at Atlantic City’s Revel Casino. Both Rice and Palmer were initially charged with simple assault, though Rice was later indicted on a more serious charge.
Rice and Palmer have since married, and team officials have praised the running back for the steps that he has taken since the incident, including counseling.
The Ravens’ top decision-makers, including owner Steve Bisciotti, general manager Ozzie Newsome and coach John Harbaugh, have all voiced their support of Rice and vowed to give him an opportunity to redeem himself.
Before this incident, Rice was considered one of the faces of the organization and praised for his work on the field and in the community.
“You have to look at Ray’s whole life, and what he's meant to this community, and how much work he’s done in the community,” Cass said. “When you look and you list everything he’s done, he’s made a major commitment here. This is not just a guy who talks about community. He does it. He’s out in the community all the time. He’s had a positive impact in Baltimore and also in his hometown. I think Ray has done so much.
“I’m hoping that when people look at Ray as a person, they will not judge him by this one incident. I always like to say, we have the advantage of knowing Ray. We’ve been with him and known him so well for six years. I think we know what kind of person he is, and I don’t think this incident represents the type of person that he is, and I’m hoping our fans will give him a chance. And I think they will.”