NJ.com- "We hope Rutgers steps out there to give him a second chance because I think it will suck if he gets that second chance (in the NFL) — and I think he's going to do a great job with it — and then Rutgers comes back," said Patriots safety Devin McCourty, who was teammates with Rice for three years at Rutgers. "Knowing Ray, he'll probably still be with it, but I think it would be great (if Rutgers acts first).
Look around the Rutgers locker room. Take a gander at their facilities. Sit through one meeting. Listen to one postgame speech. If the the word ‘family’ isn’t omnipresent to you then you need your eyes, ears, and pulse checked. If there is one thing that is a guaranteed on the Piscataway gridiron every year, it is that the players play for each other and they stand up for each other. Doesn’t matter if they are getting shellacked by Houston at home, or posting 8 wins in their first season in the Big Ten. As corny as it comes off sometimes, the Rutgers football team is as close to a family as a group can get without sharing the same DNA. Call it a moniker. Call it a motto. Call it a convenient acronym. Whatever you want to call it, it is a philosophy that Rutgers players live by, for better or worse.
The funny thing about family is you can’t change who they are. Hell, everyone has a relative or two that they wished were conceived through another bloodline. Unfortunately that’s not how it works. When someone is in dire need of support it should be their family that is there for them. Their family that is able to lift them up out of the dark place they are in. No one needs support right now more than Ray Rice. Does he deserve support? No. Is it permissible, under any circumstances, to do what he did? Absolutely not. However, this is America. The land of the second chance. Ray Rice doesn’t have a prolonged history of beating women. In fact, up until about 9 months ago, he was considered a pretty good dude. The guy has been through more hardships in his life than any of us could every imagine. That doesn’t excuse him from anything. It doesn’t mean he gets a pass. One instance can change everyones’ perception of you. That night, that video and that punch are things that Ray is going to have to live with forever. However, unless Kyle Flood’s emphasis on the term ‘family’ is merely lip service, it’s not something he has to get past alone.
It was understandable for Rutgers to disassociate with Ray Rice when the video first came out. As is Rutgers luck, the Ray Rice hysteria was taking place during a crucial time for the program. Not only around the same time as their entrance into the Big Ten, but right around the same week as their first Big Ten home game. It would have been a public relations disaster to have cameras crews scanning the building at High Point Solutions Stadium and finding life size tributes to a guy that the world just watched knock his wife into oblivion.
Tiquan Underwood's take is , “I think they should put his pictures back and welcome him back with open arms.” While I think that Ray Rice should be accepted back into the Rutgers community, I wouldn’t go as far as saying they should put his pictures back up. You have to pay for your transgressions in life. Sometimes that means jail time, sometimes that means your alma mater doesn’t readily endorse your achievements. You don’t see families tying balloons to the mailbox and renting a bounce house when a convict gets out of prison. With that said, Ray Rice meant a lot to Rutgers University, and they wouldn’t be where they are now without him. Anyone with an 1/8th of a brain cell knows what he did was wrong, but that doesn’t mean he’s necessarily a bad person. Good people do terrible things all the time, and if they didn’t have a strong family foundation they would never have another opportunity to prove that a 10 second video doesn’t define them. I don’t think they should be giving out Ray Rice bobbleheads anytime soon, but he should be welcomed on campus. After all, it’s the place he called home. Home isn’t just where your heart is, it’s where your family is. It’s where you learn to be a man, and part of being a man is learning how to forgive. You got to stand for something in this world, and I think it’s time Rutgers practice what they preach.
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