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Ray Rice will be a Baltimore Raven this upcoming season, regardless of what comes of the domestic violence charges he now faces, vows team owner Steve Bisciotti.
“If everybody was one-strike-and-you’re-out, then we’d all be in trouble,” Bisciotti told ESPN on Monday while attending the NFL owners meetings. “When somebody repeats mistakes, it’s showing a lack of character to me. You can’t take what Ray’s done — the kind of locker-room influence he’s been and the kind of community commitment that he’s shown — and say he’s a different person.”
Rice was arrested and charged last month with domestic assault after an apparent skirmish with his fiancée at an Atlantic City casino led to a physical altercation in which she was later observed on video surveillance knocked out cold and lying motionless in a hotel elevator.
While admitting that the footage is authentic, Rice’s attorney, Michael Diamondstein, maintains that the footage is incomplete and does not reveal all that transpired.
“This is going to hurt his reputation, regardless of how it works out,” said Bisciotti. “It’s humiliating to him and his fiancée, and they’re both dying over this negative publicity. I showed my support. Would I show my support with repeated failures? No.”
Rice was one of three Ravens players to be arrested over a three-week period this offseason, joining backup receiver Deonte Thompson, charged with drug possession, and lineman Jah Reid, facing battery charges.
“I’m disappointed, but I’m not concerned,” said Bisciotti, adding that there is “no circumstance” in which Rice will not be part of the Ravens in 2014.
The 27-year-old Rice rushed for 660 yards and four touchdowns last season. From 2009 until last season, the six-year veteran had four consecutive seasons of at least a 1,000 yards rushing and at least five touchdowns, including a career-high 12 in 2011.
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