SBD/April 18, 2017/Leagues and Governing Bodies

Ray Rice Appears In Video That Is Part Of NFL's Latest Social Responsibility Program

Rice has not played in the NFL since '13 after his incident became public
Former NFLer Ray Rice has "taped an interview for what will be a 2-3 minute video conversation" as part of an hour-long "social responsibility program" to be presented to NFL teams beginning next month, according to Christine Brennan of USA TODAY. The NFL "came to Rice as it planned its program for its fourth year of social responsibility education, which is focused on prevention and bystander intervention." The program, "devised by the NFL with several domestic violence advisors and experts, also includes, among others," a discussion with former NFLer Steve Smith Sr., Cowboys TE Jason Witten and Eagles WR Torrey Smith, "all of whom grew up in violent households." Rice, who has not played in the NFL since '13 after being caught on tape punching his wife in the face, "volunteered his time" for the project, and his participation will "draw the most attention." NFL Senior VP/Social Responsibility Anna Isaacson said Rice's story has been "so public and so intertwined with the NFL’s story on [domestic violence] that his words will resonate with everyone in the NFL and people will really listen to what he’s going to say" (USA TODAY, 4/18). ESPN.com's Jane McManus notes this is the "first time Rice has formally worked with the NFL" since the tape of his incident became public in September '14. Rice: "I've been building relationships with (the NFL front office), and it's a mutual thing. The NFL has a great platform, they reach a lot of people. It's part of our responsibility to reach out for not the on field opportunity but off field too." Isaacson: "We started bouncing the idea around where what if Ray could share the journey he'd been on and the choices that led him to his series of bad decisions that led him to where he is now. And that wasn't an easy decision to make" (ESPN.com, 4/17).

MAKING THE BEST OF THE SITUATION: ESPN's Booger McFarland called Rice's inclusion in the program "good" and said, "The NFL is saying, ‘There’s a way we can still gain some positive out of this situation. How about you be a role model and you stand up for this cause?’” ESPN’s Jalen Rose: “Players respect somebody that’s gone through it and experienced it. So when Ray Rice is talking about this topic, he’s going to have everybody’s attention” (“Mike & Mike,” ESPN Radio, 4/18).
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