On Thursday, when I talked to Ravens running back Ray Rice on his line up for the upcoming, “Ray Rice Day” events, Rice slightly got off topic and talked briefly about his path in the NFL.
Ray Rice: “I’m excited about it.. At this point in my career, I should be living the life, like most guys would. But football isn’t about living the life for me. For me, football is about providing for my family…..”
Coming from a 25-year-old running back at the peak of his career in the National Football League, that tells you how mature and ahead of his time Rice is. He extended that sentiment by having his 1st Ray Rice Day in Baltimore this past weekend.
About 700 children attended Saturday’s events at Calvert Hall that included a football clinic. A plethora of Rice’s teammates came to support the cause, including FB Vonta Leach, WR Torrey Smith, CB LarDarius Webb and OT Michael Oher, to name a few. On such a beautiful day, The event was a success. Rice didn’t disappoint in getting involved with the kids.
Perhaps Rice is taking over the helms of “Big Ray” Lewis, who has been a stature in the Baltimore community since being drafted by the Ravens in 1996. But Lewis is in the sunset stages in his career, and it’s a pretty fair assumption that Rice is now the BRIC (Big Ray In Charge) in Charm City. He’s younger, personable and a rising superstar in this league. To choose to hold his event in Baltimore now is perfect timing in transition.
This event isn’t just a photo op for Rice. It’s clear based on his interaction that he loves the kids. “Look at these kids, they’re nothing but smiles,” Rice said. “I love the kids, I love being active in the community. I kind of feel bad for the kids that didn’t get in. To see the smiles on these kids’ faces is priceless.”
Rice is as genuine as they come. One parent lost their child in the midst of the excitement and was frantically trying to find her daughter. Rice ended up being the one finding the little girl, and brought her back to her mother, holding the little girl’s hand. The mother was so elated that she embraced Rice affectionately- and he returned the gesture. Some things you simply can’t fake.
For many players of Rice’s age and popularity, partying and bottle popping is usually a top priority. But after our conversation it became clear to me that Rice has a bigger, better plan. It would be wise to see the Ravens re-sign Rice (the Ravens have used their franchise tag on him), not only for what he can do on the field, but for all the things that he does off as well.
Note: This is the 1st year Rice has held his event in Baltimore. He has previously held his event in New York, and revealed that he will hold events in both cities.