Rice extension was more than ‘just business’


Regardless of which side of the negotiating table one sits on, You hear these words often in NFL circles: “It’s just a business.”

Players use these words as a shield to defend their sometimes-excessive demands to the adoring public who indirectly pay their salaries. Owners and general managers use those words to justify not paying a fan favorite player market value while managing the game’s lifeblood – the salary cap.

Yet in most businesses you are forced to make tough decisions and sometimes those decisions fly in the face of financial logic. Some choices have an intrinsic value that can’t be measured monetarily and the associated difficult-to-quantify goodwill is worthy.

Such is the case with the new Ray Rice deal — a deal that any sportsbook review would have listed as an extreme long-shot early yesterday afternoon.

If you strip out the emotion, Ray Rice playing two consecutive seasons as a franchised player makes sense. These next two seasons are likely to be his most productive as a Raven. After that Mother Nature and Father Time take over and the bodily wear and tear begins to rear its ugly head on the field.

That sudden burst isn’t quite the same.

The change-of-direction skills are more rounded and not quite as sharp.

A clear path to the end zone comes to an abrupt end – halted by a tackle from behind.

And when that happens the Ravens will be looking for the next Ray Rice because the odds are the current one will not be performing to the value of his contract.

Such is the nature of the typical NFL running back beast.

But Ray Rice is anything but typical. If you wanted to create the perfect NFL player off the field chances are he’d be wearing a purple No. 27.

Does he stay in shape? Check.

Is he a good teammate? Check.

Does he possess leadership skills? Check.

Is he a solid organizational spokesperson? Check.

Does he stay out of trouble off the field? Double Check.

Is he engaged in the community? Triple Check.

Yesterday it was reported by the Ravens official website that Rice’s agent Todd France said that the former Rutgers Scarlet Knight was brought to tears after signing his new deal because with his signature he completed a pledge he made to his Mom.

How can you not be moved by that?

The contrarian will point to the history of Rice’s position and suggest that we not forget that the average life expectancy of a running back is less than 4 years.

2012 will be Ray Rice’s fifth season in the NFL.

Clearly Ray Rice isn’t typical, average or ordinary. Can he perform to the level of his new contract throughout the five-year term? If he doesn’t the Ravens could have a significant cap problem in the future.

Clearly that’s a possibility, but like his namesake Ray Lewis, Rice brings something more than on-the-field performance, key third-down conversions, 100-yard rushing games and touchdowns. He’s a role model, a table-setter, an example to not only his teammates but to youngsters who aspire to be like him.

Ray Rice in many ways has become not only the benchmark for what it means to Play Like a Raven, he’s the benchmark for what it means to Live Like a Raven.

Yes football is a business but sometimes the bottom line really isn’t always about the bottom line.


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About Tony Lombardi

Tony Lombardi
Tony is 24x7 Networks, LLC's founder (the parent of EutawStreetReport.com and RussellStreetReport.com) His work has been featured on various sports websites and he is a regular guest on 105.7 The Fan. A diehard Fab Four fan, Tony is a frustrated musician who thinks beating on the steering wheel is akin...more

One Rave about “Rice extension was more than ‘just business’

  1. Joe Walsh on said:

    Tony, Why do you, and others, feel that these athletes are special?I do believe they possess a talent that most people do not have. Let’s go down your checklist and see how that translates into most people’s reality. Does he stay in shape? Wouldn’t staying in shape be like anyone else taking continuing education to maintain their skills, which for a lot of careers, is mandatory. Is he a good team mate? What does that mean, does he play well with others? That is an easy one. Most jobs, if you do not, you get terminated. Leadership skills, every job has people that are more aggressive or have more pride than others. But, doesn’t that really translate into that person does a better job? Is he a solid organizational spokesperson? Really, what does that have to do with his job? That would have more to do with his marketablity off of the field. This is my favorite, Does he stay out of trouble off of the field? That is an option for most people. Most people I know, if they get into trouble, they do not get special treatment or can not afford high priced lawyers, they get fired. And since when did doing the right thing, make you special. Engaged in the community. If you can remember back that far, our coaches were our neighbors and other kids Fathers. I don’t seem any of them getting a pay raise at work for being involved in their community. If I remember correctly it took time away from their families and their down time. I just want to know why these players are considered special because they do what our parents and neighbors did without any special compensation? They make more in one season than most people who work 60 hours a week do in a life time, They should be the grateful ones.

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