The Collateral Damage of Rice’s AC Journey

Rice Terrible Towel

The Ray Rice domestic violence case is unfortunate on many levels. Clearly it affects the lives of Rice, his fiancée Janay Palmer and their young daughter more than anyone else.

The collateral damage for them is most costly.

Still, regardless of Rice’s guilt or innocence the former All-Pro’s Atlantic City transgressions amount to a nightmare for the Baltimore Ravens both on and off the field.

The Ravens gave Rice a huge contract in 2012 not just for his impressive statistical accomplishments but also for his leadership and the way he represented the organization in the community.

His ability to lead will be severely challenged.

To lead a player must command respect. Respect can be earned through productivity and professionalism. Productive players exude confidence and that captures the attention of teammates and invites leadership.

Rice hasn’t exuded confidence for quite some time, going back to the playoffs of 2012 when uncharacteristic fumbling became an issue. The swagger is gone for now and that makes it difficult to lead. Look around the league. How many players struggling on the field are leaders off it?

As for the professional side of the leadership equation, his behavior in Atlantic City at nearly 3 in the morning, even if the elevator episode is nothing more than intoxicated idiocy, isn’t exactly the cloth from which leaders are cut. And now, regardless of how this situation shakes out, it would be naïve to think that his anti-bullying campaign could be effective.

The court of public opinion isn’t exactly a temple of fairness.

So where does this leave the Ravens?

If found guilty or even if he’s exonerated yet more visual evidence surfaces that paints the league offices into the corner, a suspension is possible and that could force the team to look a little more closely at the RB position in the NFL Draft or mine the rosters of other teams in anticipation of a cap casualty.

More importantly this situation is a black eye for the entire organization.

The Ravens have been very mindful of character in players for years. They wanted to shed the thug reputation that clung to the team like an undesirable stench, ushered in by the off-the-field mishaps from the likes of Messrs. Lewis, Lewis, Lewis, McAlister, Fuller and Sams. They didn’t and don’t want to be viewed as the East Coast Oakland Raiders.

Ravens owner Steve Bisciotti wants a more polished reputation so that they can attract the devotion of fans outside of Maryland. They hope to transcend the boundaries of their fan base boxed in by those of the Eagles’ to the north, the Redskins’ to the south, the Steelers’ to the west and the Atlantic Ocean to the east.

Carefully executed plans to increase the team’s marketability have been at least partially derailed by Rice. And for Rice, things are even worse.

All of his community centric efforts, the time and money he’s devoted, in one alleged careless action are suddenly rendered meaningless. Even if found not guilty, the scars will remain and the sincerity of his message will be questioned.

He’ll be mocked in all visiting stadiums, perhaps even challenged by activists against domestic violence. It will be a distraction for Rice and the team. Could you imagine him showing his muscle to fans on the road again?

Sometimes such circumstances can galvanize a team like the Ravens experienced in 2000 following the Ray Lewis murder charges. Other times it can fracture a team and all the king’s horses, and all the king’s men can’t help.

But time has a way of healing such things.

Clearly it would help Rice if he’s a productive player again and his messages off the field remain consistent and honorable. Then they may become believable again.

However this shakes out for the Ravens and/or Rice it is a reminder of how quickly things can change and how in these modern times with an information highway that travels at warp speeds, carefully crafted reputations can come crashing down in an instant.

Rebuilding them, not so much.

Fortunately for the Ravens the strength of their organization can help them to weather the imminent storm.

But it won’t be easy…

This entry was posted in Blog View, Featured, Lombardi's Way by Tony Lombardi. Bookmark the permalink.

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

14 Raves on “The Collateral Damage of Rice’s AC Journey

  1. jws on said:

    There is alot that has been said and alot more the media will write and fans will say in bars and on talk radio and when with their friends. I was a councilor years ago at Grass Roots in Columbia,Md, a 24 hour hot line service and we dealt will physically abused women and we housed many of these victims with beds so they could be protected. I mention this just to show I have some experience and creditable in this area. I do not have any first hand knowledge of Rice’s personal case but I can say this, these situations are never a one occurrrence when they happen. No matter what image aperosn has in public and how nice they seem does not always show waht emotional and mental state they are in the private life. What happens next is in both parties hands and I wish them a successful coonclusion to their abusive behaviors. Football becomes a far less important situation right now. That can be easily taken care no matter what the team or the league decides to do. Most important thing that most are overlooking is the welfare of this couple and their child. I wish them well to resolve their problems.

    • Anonymous on said:

      bad article, I will never read you again, the media is awful, I don’t even watch 6pm news any more, I guess its time to stop reading the papers , too

  2. BmoreB on said:

    I’ll be glad when this is over, whichever way things go. I simply can’t take much more and I can just imagine what Ray and his fiancée are going through. Life is a real B word sometimes.

  3. john on said:

    The closet THUG has awaken!The real Ray Rice has shown his face …. WOMEN BEATER! plain and simple.
    Hey fellow Baltimore Ravens fans, we can’t sit here and make excuse after excuse for this guy ( like the assholes on 105.7 the fan) after we bash Big Ben the rapist and the Steelers for what he did. Let’s have some class owners and managers of the Ravens and admit what happened. The police have video tape of him knocking out his girlfriend … period! I have had enough of the dog fighting possible murder, rapes, and everything else in the NFL. Stop making excuses! He needs to go!

    • catgirl54 on said:

      Yes, if the owner wants to get away from the “thug” image of the Baltimore Ravens, and have a better brand nationwide, he needs to make a strong stand against this sort of thing. They hushed up the Suggs incident and I guess I didn’t pay that much attention to it — honestly, Suggs just seemed like a more likely candidate for acting out. Rice has a carefully cultivated image and this is a disturbing glimpse into the other side of him. It will be interesting to see what the outcome is.

  4. sixlittlegators on said:

    I am heartbroken….not only for myself and Ray Rice and his family but more importantly for my sons who look up to him. I never in a million years would have imagined this to happen.

  5. Voice of Reason on said:

    This is uncharted waters for the team. The closest domestic violence involved Terrell Suggs, but that was not caught on tape and it occurred in his home and there wasn’t TMZ showing it all over the internet. One could say that this is a higher profile case than Ray Lewis, only because it happened in 2000 and there wasn’t social media as we know it. When are high profile players going to learn that you can’t be seen in public and if you are you must be on your best behavior 24/7? Atlantic City casinos is not the place for any player at any time. If I were a player, I would be out of sight or on a island in the South Pacific where no one knew me.
    I think there is no way Ray Rice will ever be seen in the same light as before. The best way he can redeem himself is to keep a low profile and have a monster year on the football field, that is if he sees the football field.

  6. Mark on said:

    The absolute worst place to do something bad and hope to get away with it is in a casino with multiple angle cameras everywhere. It’s hard to see a happy ending to this but it’s likely there will be a wedding scheduled shortly to mitigate the damage.
    I sadly have to bet that Ray’s behavior is not a one time thing. How many times has he mouthed off to an opponent double his size (even drawing a 15 yard penalty because he cant control himself)? Despite the inconclusive video from the Bengals game, it is my belief that he did spit at Phil Taylor. Ray has a very short fuse and this time he may have to pay the piper for it (along with his fiancee, his teammates, the organization and his sponsors).

  7. John on said:

    The Ravens have a way out of a large contract with a player that has gone downhill. Go for it and dump him. All of us are only as good as our last screw up.

  8. shanna spearman on said:

    Im so tired of seeing this story constantly. Also, I need to see the entire video footage… I’m not rushing to judgement… if he’s wrong, of course he should pay. But this is a heavy charge. All video should be examined.

  9. catgirl54 on said:

    People become disillusioned when their heroes turn out to have feet of clay. Domestic violence is a huge problem not only in football but all professional sports. Reported incidents of domestic violence go up by 10% when a team loses a game it is supposed to win. There are many enablers of this behavior, including the spouses and girlfriends of the abusers themselves. Just reading some of the comments on the fan pages tells me that many people don’t want to face the fact that Rice, a beloved figure in the community, could be a violent man in private. Alcohol, unfortunately, fuels the behavior. Counseling can help. I personally don’t believe any physical assault should be tolerated, but I guess I’m not the one making the rules.

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