News coming out of Houston Texans training camp has it that running back Arian Foster has an injured groin and could need surgery; he is almost certain to miss the beginning of the season, at least. With a less-than-impressive stable of backups (Alfred Blue, Jonathan Grimes) behind Foster, the Texans would seem to be in need for a proven running back to carry the load while Foster recovers. Might they be interested in a three-time Pro Bowl back who helped a team win a Super Bowl just a few years ago?
That’s right, Houston: Ray Rice is still available.
This suggestion, that the Texans sign Rice, will probably produce many howls of outrage, but I’m not sure why. Rice is eligible to be signed; he’s not in jail or under any legal restriction. Yes, his act in that elevator was heinous, but he’s been punished for it and–like anyone else who has paid the debt for his crime–should be allowed to move on.
But more to the point: the NFL is hardly shy about employing men with a checkered past. They’re certainly not Hardy-shy; Greg Hardy–he of the domestic violence conviction that was later overturned–is under contract with the Cowboys and cleared for launch come Dallas’s fifth game this season. It hardly seems just to blackball Rice and not Hardy only because the former’s action was captured on video and the latter performed his deeds in the shadows and off-camera. And let’s not forget, Michael Vick murdered dogs. Repeatedly. And did time for it. That didn’t keep him out of the league in perpetuity.
Of course, some team (be it the Texans or anyone else) signing Rice would, at this point, cause Roger Goodell to have kittens. It’s the last thing he wants to deal with, given his previous troubles with Rice’s case and his shaky standing in the wake of the Tom Brady situation. Indeed, if someone does sign Rice, that might be a signal about Goodell’s standing around the league. Rice signing a contract somewhere might be more than just a team filling a need; it might very well show how much–or how little–respect the teams have left for their embattled commissioner.
Will the Texans or some other team step up and give Rice a chance? Stay tuned.