Call me crazy (many would/have), but why wasn’t Ravens embattled RB Ray Rice at Lardarius Webb’s Charity Softball game at M&T Stadium this past Sunday?
It seems to me if you are an athlete who has the type of off-season that Rice has had, this safe environment would be perfect spot to start your “win the fans back” campaign.
I use the term “safe” because there wasn’t a ton of local media and I didn’t see any national guys either. If one of the beat guys did ask him a question about the “incident,” he could have politely declined to answer those type of questions. Something as easy as, “I’m here to support my teammate Webby’s great work with this charity.” Or go the legal route with a, “I can’t comment on that matter for legal reasons.”
I was lucky enough to have some player access, and was able to get up and personal with a ton of Ravens players during this well-run event. I found all of them to be extremely nice and interacted graciously with the 15K Ravens-crazed fans who dressed like it was a November tilt vs. the Steelers. Got to give it up to RavensNation: you people are as passionate about your squad as any team I’ve been around. Props.
Overall, it might have been one of the best run charity events (sports-wise) I’ve attended. From the fan access, to the game itself (won by the offense 23-15), everything was run very smoothly and professionally.
QB Joe Flacco was the star of the HR Derby, as he did his best Nelson Cruz impression with some impressive big flies (though he bolted right after the HR Derby). Other players that stood out were OT Ryan Jensen, who at 6’3″ 300+ lbs., was pretty smooth at SS. First round pick CJ Mosley was also impressive at the plate.
Even the after-party crab feast at Jimmy’s Seafood was well attended by Ravens players and former safety Ed Reed. WR Torrey Smith just might be the nicest athlete I’ve ever come in contact with, and Jacoby Jones is down right hilarious.
But back to my original question, why wasn’t Ray Rice there? I know for a fact he has attended this event in the past when it was played up at Ripken Stadium, in Aberdeen. Why not use this friendly platform to try and un-do some of the damage he applied during last week’s “apology” press conference? I know his head coach, John Harbaugh who was in attendance, would’ve liked it. Hell, I bet he would’ have gained some respect from some of his teammates if he would have posted, based on the circumstances.
To Rice’s credit, he might have been out of town (though OTAs just finished). Maybe it simply didn’t fit into his off-season schedule. Who knows. I surely don’t.
But if it was me in this situation, nothing would be as important to me than trying to gain back some sense of respect from my teammates and fans alike. I’m not saying attending this event would have made everyone forget the transgressions from this off-season, but it could have started the ball rolling in that direction. That is something Ray Rice needs at this point.