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Baltimore Ravens stir controversy for honoring Ray Rice a decade after domestic violence incident

Rice, a former Ravens running back whose domestic violence incident ended his career in 2014, will be recognized Sunday as a “Legend of the Game.”
Miami Dolphins v Baltimore Ravens
A Baltimore Ravens helmet is before a game against the Miami Dolphins at M&T Bank Stadium in Baltimore on Sunday.Todd Olszewski / Getty Images

The Baltimore Ravens are honoring Ray Rice, a former running back who was arrested nearly 10 years ago on domestic violence charges, as a “Legend of the Game.”

Rice, who will receive the recognition at Sunday’s game against the Miami Dolphins, played six seasons with the Ravens before his career ended in 2014 — when he was caught on video in an elevator punching his then-fiancée (now wife) Janay Palmer so hard that she hit her head on a handrail, and then dragged her out of the elevator.

Rice was part of the team’s 2013 Super Bowl win and was named to the Pro Bowl three times throughout his NFL career.

Ray Rice
Former Baltimore Ravens running back Ray Rice walks onto the field before a game against the Cleveland Browns in Baltimore on Oct. 23, 2022.Lauren Bacho / AP

The Ravens announced the decision in an article on the team’s website that detailed Rice’s accomplishments in football as well as his efforts at redemption. Neither Rice nor a spokesperson for the Ravens responded immediately to a request for comment.

“Rice is being recognized for the player he was, and for the redemption he has worked towards,” the article stated. “Out of the public eye, Rice has been working on himself, his relationship, and within the community.”

The article did not expand on the “incident” that shocked the nation and ended his career but mentioned that it “put him in the center of a national conversation about domestic violence.”

A grand jury had indicted Rice on charges of third-degree aggravated assault, but the charges were dropped after he agreed to undergo court-supervised counseling. The NFL at first suspended Rice for two games, and later imposed a longer suspension.

“I didn’t get it right,” NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell wrote in a letter that year, in which he announced a more severe domestic violence suspension policy for the league’s players. “Simply put, we have to do better. And we will.”

In an interview for the article on the team’s website, Rice tells the Ravens that he takes “full responsibility and accountability” for his actions in 2014. The article then details his efforts to unpack the incident, as well as his charitable community endeavors since he set out for redemption.

Miami Dolphins v Baltimore Ravens
Melvin Gordon III of the Baltimore Ravens warms up before a game against the Miami Dolphins at M&T Bank Stadium in Baltimore on Sunday.Todd Olszewski / Getty Images

“I truly understand why I was let go and why so many hearts changed. But hopefully people can see where I’m at now,” Rice told the Ravens. “They say people can change, right? I am not the same person I was 10-12 years ago. That’s just not who I am.”

Still, the Legend of the Game announcement stirred contention online, with some Ravens fans expressing eagerness to move past the incident and others criticizing the decision to adorn him with such an honor. Some also reshared video of the incident to remind others of a moment that shocked viewers when it was first released.

“I appreciate that Ray Rice has put in the work to better himself, his community, and his marriage,” one user posted on X. “However, one of the punishments for knocking your wife out in an elevator should be that you don’t get 70,000 people cheering your professional legacy.”