Ray Rice is facing the reality of a future without football.
The disgraced former Baltimore Ravens running back was interviewed by NJ Advanced Media on Thursday and the 29-year-old admitted that while he wants to return to the NFL, he knows he’ll have to consider his future if he doesn’t latch on with a new team.
“I’m training, but I’m more training for life,” Rice said. “I think it’s safe to say that football … I don’t want to ever say I’m giving up, because that’s never going to be me … I’m happy. I’m in the best shape of my life, and I know if it doesn’t happen this year, it’s probably something I have to deal with. But you know what? It’s not the end of my life.
Rice hasn’t appeared in the NFL since the 2013 season when he was suspended (and eventually reinstated) by the league after TMZ posted a video showing him knocking out his wife in an elevator. It was a disgusting and eye-opening moment for the league, especially in the way they handled the situation and the ensuing blowback from that. Since the incident, Rice hasn’t been welcomed back into professional football.
“I know that the window for playing is closing. But if my window closes, I’m going to make sure I open up a thousand more opportunities for kids, to give them an opportunity to pick up where I left off. That’s where I’m at. I’ve got three Pro Bowls and a Super Bowl. There’s a lot of people that can’t go out there and do what I did. But I don’t want it to end that way, it’s safe to say.”
A comeback for Rice is unlikely at this point. Besides the likelihood of NFL teams wanting to steer clear of the running back due to his violent past, the reality is that his production had already started to fall off. He averaged 3.1 yards per carry in 214 attempts. That’s mediocre by pro standards. There’s a good chance his career would be nearing it’s end even if he hadn’t been suspended.
Rice put himself in the situation, so he’ll have to continue to face the repercussions. An NFL return at this point would be shocking.