Ray Rice issued a statement to the people of Baltimore on Friday morning through their daily newspaper.
This is not a farewell or goodbye. The last seven years that my family and I have spent in Baltimore have by far been the best of our lives. From the bottom of my heart, I thank you all for the love and support you’ve shown my family and I throughout my football career. We’ll always be grateful for the love we’ve received from all of our fans and supporters, and for winning a Super Bowl. To all the kids who looked up to me, I’m truly sorry for letting you down, but I hope it’s helped you learn that one bad decision can turn your dream into a nightmare. There is no excuse for domestic violence, and I apologize for the horrible mistake I made. I hope you can find it in your heart to forgive me, and I hope to make a positive difference in people’s lives by raising awareness of this issue. Thank you, Baltimore Ravens, for all you have done for my family and I. I’m very grateful to Steve Bisciotti, Ozzie Newsome, John Harbaugh, and everyone at 1 Winning Drive. I love you all very much, and I’ll always be proud to say I played for the Baltimore Ravens.
The message comes two days before the anniversary of the incident in an Atlantic City elevator that left Rice’s future wife knocked out cold, the running back without a contract, and the NFL’s reputation in freefall for its commissioner’s bungling in response to the scandal.
Rice, though reinstated in the league by a judge who essentially called into question the honesty of NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell, remains without a team or even interest at this point. Though a Super Bowl champion, three-time Pro Bowler, and dual run-catch threat out of the backfield, the 28-year-old had already showed signs of decline prior to the domestic violence incident. In 2013, Rice averaged an anemic 3.1 yards a carry and looked like a ghost of the back who accounted for more than 1,500 yards from scrimmage in the previous four seasons.
Whether a year off further erodes Rice’s skills or allows his body to recoup from a six-year NFL pounding, remains to be seen whether it remains to be seen. Given the terrible publicity surrounding a player once thought of as one of the league’s model citizens, and production in steep decline, Ray Rice may be done at 28.