We've done our best to call out Baltimore Ravens running back Ray Rice for his inexcusable actions (for which he never actually apologized to his victim, who just happens to be his wife now), and we've taken the NFL to task for its two-game suspension, which — when you stack it up to some of Roger Goodell's other discipline — appears quite light.
But the most forgiving group of people appears to be Ravens fans, who just love their players. Fans loudly cheered Rice on Monday, as his image repeatedly appeared on the big screen at M&T Bank Stadium, the site of the Ravens' first open practice at training camp.
Rice even beat his chest as a nod to fans. Per ESPN.com's Jamison Henley, many in the crowd Monday night were wearing Rice's No. 27 jersey, including several women and children.
The facts are these: Rice was beloved prior to his altercation with then-fiancée Janay Palmer in February, and — if the cheers are any indication — he remains one of the team's most popular players. The team was cautious at first when news of the incident broke, but make no mistake: It firmly has stood in Rice's corner, explaining the event as being out of character for Rice.
Rice, who often speaks to the media, issued a statement through the Ravens' PR department last week after deciding not to appeal the NFL's two-game suspension.
“It is disappointing that I will not be with my teammates for the first two games of the season, but that’s my fault," Rice said. "As I said earlier, I failed in many ways. But, Janay and I have learned from this. We have become better as a couple and as parents. I am better because of everything we have experienced since that night. The counseling has helped tremendously.
“My goal is to earn back the trust of the people, especially the children, I let down because of this incident. I am a role model and I take that responsibility seriously. My actions going forward will show that.”
His job earning back the trust of Ravens fans appears a fairly easy task. The rest of the country might come a little more slowly if the public outcry over the event and its aftermath (even if that scorn is aimed roundly at the NFL) is any indication.
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