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Friday, February 21, 2014

Trouble mounts for Ravens' Ray Rice

By on 2/21/2014 09:45:00 PM

The Baltimore Ravens face a tough decision in how to handle running back Ray Rice's domestic violence incident, which has gone from a simple assault to a summons indicating the running back knocked his fiancée unconscious. Will this attack impact Rice's future reputation as the Ravens future running back for Baltimore?

Rice was arrested and charged with simple-assault-domestic violence over the weekend after a domestic dispute with his fiancee, Janay Palmer at the Revel casino in Atlantic City early Saturday morning. Both Rice and Palmer were arrested and charged with simple assault following an assault that hit national news and sporting news alike the following days.

Rice's attorney, Andrew Alperstein, described the allegations as a “very minor physical altercation” with Palmer. Both Rice, 27, and Palmer, 26, were released on a summons to appear in court. Rice is also subject to a review by the league under the NFL personal-conduct policy, according to a league source.

With more information coming to light over the last couple of days, many are wondering about Rice's status with the team.

Jeferey Beall via Wikimedia Commons

Asked Friday whether there is a scenario where he could see Rice not being part of the Ravens in 2014, head coach John Harbaugh told reporters at the NFL combine:  
"Not that I'm aware of. I haven't seen anything that would remotely make me think that."
A copy of the summons issued by the Atlantic City Municipal Court, obtained by WJZTV 13, alleges that Rice struck his fiancée Janay Palmer with his hand, rendering her unconscious. Palmer was also issued a summons for striking Rice with her hand. Multiple videos were released, which showed Rice lifting a seemingly unconscious Palmer by her arms out of an elevator at the casino and laying her on the ground.

Rice's attorney, Michael Diamondstein, told Baltimore Sun the video was authentic but incomplete.  Harbaugh said he spoke with Rice on Monday to get his explanation of the incident. Rice plans to participate in the team's voluntary workout program, according to Harbaugh.
"Ray and I are real close," Harbaugh said. "We have been for a long time, so it's an easy conversation to have. I love Janay. She's a great person.  The two people obviously have a couple issues that they have to work through, and they're both committed to doing that. That was the main takeaway for me from the conversation. They understand their own issues. They're getting a lot of counseling and those kinds of things, so I think that's really positive. That was the main takeaway."
One important thing to note, The Ravens have never rushed to judgment on a player. They kept cornerback Samari Rolle and Terrel Suggs on the team during their domestic violence cases. General manager Ozzie Newsome told reporters Monday that Rice is still a big part of the team's plans in 2014, although he did say a final decision won't be made until he gets all of the answers.

As the Ravens continue looking into the situation, so will the NFL. According to multiple reports, the league will review Rice's case and he could face discipline under the NFL's personal conduct policy. The league has previously fined and suspended players, even if they haven't been convicted of a crime. NFL Senior Vice President of Communications Greg Aiello told that a review of such a case is "standard procedure" for the league.

Rice had his Tuesday court appearance postponed while prosecutors review the charges. The new date has not been set. He could face punishment from the league even if he's not convicted. The NFL could suspend and fine him under its personal conduct policy.

Noting that the Ravens have never rushed to judgment in domestic cases with their players in the past. ESPN's Jamison Hensley believes the franchise faces a difficult decision with Rice.
"If the Ravens stand by Rice, they're going to face increasing pressure from fans and negative media attention to cut him," Hensley wrote. "If the Ravens cut Rice, they will lose a significant chunk of their salary cap, which will derail some of their off-season plans to bounce back from last season's disappointing 8-8 season. The Ravens are in a lose-lose situation with Rice."
While the Ravens have made absolutely no indication that they would do so, cutting Rice would reportedly cost the team $5.5 million this season, per Hensley. That's more than what they gained by agreeing with Terrell Suggs to a contract extension. If they designated Rice as a post-June 1dy cut, they would reportedly save $4 million this year, but it would reportedly count $9.5 million against the cap next season.

Rice is coming off a 2013 with somewhat dismal stats, accumulating 660 yards and just four touchdowns. It was reported that Rice had played all of last years season with a hip injury, which may have accounted for his lack of productivity for 2013. Still, his career 660 yards with 37 touchdowns may take a second look at this seven-year veteran that began his career in Baltimore in 2008.

So how much how hot water is in store for running back Ray Rice?  A Ravens spokesman told The Sun:
 "We have seen the video, this is a serious matter and we are currently gathering more information."
One recent gesture is that Ravens nose tackle Haloti Ngata has replaced running back Ray Rice at the Maryland Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals' kickoff party this Friday night for its annual March of Animals event.  An MDSPCA spokeswoman said that it was a mutual decision between the organization and Rice, because they didn't want to take the focus off the animals and the cause.

The outrage of domestic violence victims around the world has already began to speak out, and it will be only a matter of time before Rice either gets to emerge from the criticism triumphantly or essentially be a pariah in the league and forever labeled yet another NFL player to go too far in the realms of fans' tolerance.

You can follow me on Twitter for more NFL News: @alewnes7


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