Leonard Little and Donte Stallworth, two former players, competed in the league after being convicted of vehicular manslaughter. That means they killed people while driving. . . and continued their NFL careers.
Rice’s punching of his wife in an Atlantic City elevator in February, knocking her unconscious, was horrific, a visual that is difficult to watch. It’s an unconscionable act that he has to live with and explain to his young daughter at some point.
Having had the indefinite suspension lifted by a judge last week, the way is clear for Rice to join another team.
That’s sure what he wants and should get. Why? Because, while Rice’s actions were unforgivable to many and disgusting to all, he has paid his penance legally and at home. At 27 and with no history of prior bad acts—with a history, in fact, of vast community service—Rice should get a shot.
For his part, he said on the “Today” show Tuesday: “They would have to be willing to look deeper into who I am and realize that me and my wife had one bad night, and I took full responsibility for it. And one thing about my punishment and everything going along with anything that happened is that I’ve accepted it. I went fully forward with it. I never complained, or I never did anything like that. I took full responsibility for everything that I did, and the only thing I can hope for and wish for is a second chance.”
Reportedly, four teams have expressed interest. Rice would like to join a new franchise in the coming week. Who knows if that will happen?
Surely, there will be some push back from domestic violence groups about Rice resuming his career, and the team that takes the leap to nab him would have to have a strong infrastructure and, of course, would have to have thoroughly vetted Rice.
The precedent set is ugly, but favorable for Rice. Stallworth, in 2009, was drunk while driving and hit and killed a man with his car in Miami. He was suspended for the 2009 season and reinstated at the start of the next season. Ironically, he signed with Rice’s old team, the Ravens, in 2010 and played another season with the Washington Redskins.
Little, playing for the St. Louis Rams in 1998, drove through a red light while drunk and crashed into a vehicle, killing a mother and two children. Little received no jail time, only four years probation and 1,000 hours of community service. He continued his career for 11 years (arrested for DUI in 2004, too).
Meanwhile, Rice said the right things on TV.
“If I never play football again,” he said, “I’ll be honest with you, I would adapt into life and I would sacrifice more so (my wife) can have a better future.”
The turmoil in his life likely will make Rice less marketable, but, hopefully, a better man. And that would be a win. Rice’s future almost surely will include playing in the NFL again. Three times he topped 1,000 yards in a season. He was a tough, reliable, well-liked player. He deserves to resume his career.