Ray Rice, the football star fired from the Baltimore Ravens on Monday after TMZ published a video that showing him knocking his then-fiancee unconscious, is a familiar face in Annapolis.
Last year, he submitted testimony to the Maryland General Assembly in favor of legislation to combat cyberbullying, writing: “I am a huge advocate against bullying.”
Rice stood behind Gov. Martin O’Malley (D) — a major Ravens fan and booster — as O’Malley signed the legislation into law.
Lt. Gov. Anthony G. Brown (D) once called Rice his “favorite” Ravens player. Brown and Rice joined together to discourage drunk driving in 2010 and hosted a 2012 holiday toy drive at a Baltimore night club. After the Ravens won the 2013 Super Bowl, Brown wore Rice’s No. 27 jersey to a Board of Public Works meeting.
“Ray is a truly exceptional leader and role model, both on the field and in the community, and we’re proud to have him continue to call our great State home,” Brown wrote on his professional Facebook page in July 2012, after Rice signed a five-year, $35 million contract with the Ravens.
Both O’Malley and Brown, who is running to succeed O’Malley as governor, rushed to distance themselves from the football star on Monday after the Ravens terminated Rice’s contract. Photos and comments that mentioned Rice disappeared from Brown’s Facebook page and Twitter feed. O’Malley and Brown released statements condemning domestic violence, and other politicians quickly followed their lead.
“The Ravens made the right decision today,” read part of the statement from Brown, who has made domestic violence one of his leading causes. “No family is immune from the horror of domestic violence and we should never turn a blind eye – regardless of whether the abuser is famous or lives across the street.”
The statement from O’Malley, who is weighing a 2016 White House bid, was much shorter: “The video released this morning of this domestic assault was horrible, shocking, and reprehensible. Everyone can do more to help end the scourge of domestic violence.”
The governor also asked Marylanders to support a domestic violence center in Baltimore and linked to a Web page that detailed what he has done to combat domestic violence, part of a 26 percent reduction in violent crime against women and children in the state since 2006.
Rice, 27, was arrested in Atlantic City on Feb. 15 and charged with simple assault following an altercation with his then-fiancee, Janay Palmer. Palmer was also charged. Within days, TMZ posted a video that appeared to show Rice dragging an unconscious Palmer out of an elevator.
The couple married in March, after charges against Palmer were dropped and a grand jury indicted Rice on a more serious charge of aggravated assault. He was accepted into a program for first-time offenders that could allow him to avoid trial if he stays out of trouble and attends counseling.
In late February, shortly after Rice’s arrest, a reporter from the celebrity gossip Web site asked O’Malley: “As a huge Baltimore Ravens fan, are you disappointed in Ray Rice right now?”
The governor took several seconds to gather his thoughts. “I don’t know that it has anything to do with being a fan or not being a fan,” O’Malley said, according to a video of the interview. “I think you always feel a tremendous amount of disappointment whenever someone finds himself in a situation involving this sort of domestic violence. And the public attention to it only makes that pain magnified.”