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Ray Rice hasn’t stepped onto the professional gridiron since video footage emerged of the running back striking his then-fiancee, Janay Rice, in an Atlantic City elevator, and he admitted Thursday that his time in the NFL may be over.
Speaking to NJ Advance Media’s James Kratch, Rice disclosed that he knows he may never suit up in the pros again:
I’m training, but I’m more training for life. I think it’s safe to say that football … I don’t want to ever say I’m giving up, because that’s never going to be me … I’m happy. I’m in the best shape of my life, and I know if it doesn’t happen this year, it’s probably something I have to deal with. But you know what? It’s not the end of my life.
While the former Baltimore Ravens running back admitted his “window for playing is closing,” he took an optimistic approach when it came to his future outlook, per Kratch:
If my window closes, I’m going to make sure I open up a thousand more opportunities for kids, to give them an opportunity to pick up where I left off. That’s where I’m at. I’ve got three Pro Bowls and a Super Bowl. There’s a lot of people that can’t go out there and do what I did. But I don’t want it to end that way, it’s safe to say.
In January, Rice told TMZ he hoped to make a comeback. However, opportunities have been few and far between for the 29-year-old.
The New York Jets gave Rice a look in January, but general manager Mike Maccagnan said at the time he didn’t “foresee” the team signing the embattled tailback, per ESPN.com’s Rich Cimini.
However, Rice has been able to remain active in football to some degree.
According to ESPN.com’s Jamison Hensley, Rice spoke to the Ravens’ 2016 rookie class in May about his trials and tribulations.
Considering Rice hasn’t appeared in a game since 2013, it would be a surprise to see a team gamble on the three-time Pro Bowler following two full seasons away from live hitting. Factor in the optics that would accompany Rice’s arrival with a new organization, and his assessment regarding a potential pro future could be spot-on.
“I feel like if it’s going to happen, it’s going to happen,” he said, per Kratch. “It’s not going to be on my terms. It’s going to be by the grace of God and my faith, for an owner to just say, ‘This guy deserves a second chance.'”