In a strange turn of events, a select few wore Ray Rice’s jersey at the Baltimore Ravens Thursday night football game against the Pittsburgh Steelers. Fox Sports interviewed several of the fans wearing Rice jerseys, all of whom expressed their support for the man, despite recent events.

Rice, a New Rochelle, N.Y. native, rushed for a total of 1,192 yards and scored 31 touchdowns in his senior year of high school. He went on to rush for 4,926 yards and score 49 touchdowns in his career at Rutgers University. In 2008, the Baltimore Ravens selected Rice in the NFL Draft. After an average rookie campaign, Rice took over the starting running back position in 2009.

Since that 2009 season, he has been a staple in the Baltimore backfield, recording more than 1,000 yards a season for four straight years. Rice won a high school championship, was the MVP in the International Bowl, a 3-time Pro Bowler and a Super Bowl Champion. On Sept. 8, 2014, Rice’s $35 million contract was terminated and he was released from the Ravens.

Now, Rice and NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell are in the midst of the biggest controversy the NFL has ever seen. Headlines that once surrounded Johnny Football’s daily activities and Michael Sam’s battle to make an NFL roster have been replaced with disputes on whether or not the NFL received tapes of Rice hitting his then-fiancée Janay Palmer. Goodell tried to rid himself of the issue after giving Rice a two-game suspension, however the immediate backlash the suspension received showed this case wasn’t even close to over, especially with Cleveland Browns’ Josh Gordon being dealt a full season suspension for failing a drug test.

Goodell, who is facing serious pressure to resign as NFL commissioner, has apologized for the way he’s handled the situation. Since the initial Rice two-game suspension, Goodell has tried to save face by increasing the domestic violence punishment to a six-game suspension for first offenders and a lifetime ban for second offenders. Since TMZ released the infamous elevator video, Rice has been suspended from the NFL indefinitely.

Despite Goodell’s efforts, the Associated Press reported that the NFL received a copy of Rice and Palmer during the incident three months ago – the same copy uploaded by TMZ. Goodell and the NFL have denied the accusations that they knew about the video. However, a voicemail recording shows that the NFL had knowledge of the video and blatantly ignored the situation.

The worst part of this situation is that it doesn’t stop with him. In a report by CNN, 85 of the 713 NFL player arrests since 2000 have been because of domestic violence. None of which have received nearly as much attention as Rice, which is entirely understandable because these other cases didn’t have video evidence of the incident. Greg Hardy of the Carolina Panthers is in the process of appealing allegations from this summer of beating and threatening his ex-girlfriend. Even more recently, Ray McDonald of the San Francisco 49ers was arrested after he was allegedly involved in a domestic dispute with his 10-week pregnant fiancée, who was seen at the scene with bruises on her arms and neck.

By definition, Palmer is the victim in the situation. However, she has been very vocal in defending her husband going as far as saying that football being taken away from him is horrific, according to her Instagram account. Regardless, details of the situation are continuing to unfold and will reveal the future of certain players, commissioners and even the league itself.

 

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