Disgraced former NFL running back Ray Rice won the appeal of his suspension last Friday, allowing him to return to the game and sign with any team that wants him. The question is, will any NFL team sign him?  Is it worth the risk to sign an aging veteran who has lost a step and become a pariah in all football circles?

NFL Media Insider Ian Rapoport reported that four teams are interested in acquiring Rice’s services, though there is a general feeling that they will not attempt to sign him until after this season.

ESPN, along with many other news sources, has speculated that the Indianapolis Colts and the New Orleans Saints are two of the four teams, though Saints’ bench boss Sean Payton denies any interest in signing the 29 year old.

The Colts would probably be the best fit for Rice, as their best running back, Ahmad Bradshaw, has a fractured fibula and is done for the year, and Trent Richardson, their other option, has shown himself to be a bust of all busts, with little chance for success in Indy.  Perhaps a stint with the Colts is what Rice needs to rehabilitate his image, as Indianapolis isn’t a huge-market team like the Giants or Cowboys, so there would likely be less media attention on him.

The fact that any team is interested in Rice harkens back to the days when former Atlanta Falcons superstar quarterback Michael Vick, now with the New York Jets, was also trying to resurrect his image and play in the NFL again.

Vick, who was in prison for participating in a dog fighting ring, signed with the Philadelphia Eagles upon his release and did everything in his power to show that he had turned over a new leaf. He became a good teammate (indeed, he even was content with being benched for Nick Foles last year if it was in the team’s best interests), and participated in numerous charitable activities in order to show his repentance.

Now, these aren’t exactly interchangeable circumstances, as Vick was more of a superstar before his suspension than Rice will ever be. But, Rice still has a Super Bowl win on his resume, and was considered a very good player until the end of last year, when he started to slow.

Perhaps Rice needs to take a page out of Vick’s book and go somewhere where he can take the backup role, quietly working his way up the team’s depth chart rather than coming in and demanding to start.

Wherever he goes, Rice will carry the shame of his actions with him forever, so he should try to participate in some charitable work in order to show that he is sorry for his actions.  It may not make people forgive him, but it may reduce their anger toward him if he helps people in need.

Is there any NFL team out there in desperate need of a good running back that is willing to take a flyer on Rice, hoping that he can resurrect his career like Vick? Only time will tell.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.