(Patrick Semansky / AP)

There has been an interesting distinction in the debate and furor that arose last week when Ray Rice was given a two-game suspension by the NFL because of an offseason domestic violence incidence involving his now-wife Janay.

Video of the incident was disturbing, but the primary outrage was directed at the NFL for what was deemed to be an insufficient suspension, one inconsistent with others handed down, rather than Rice. That didn’t change Monday when the running back took the field at the Baltimore Ravens’ first open practice of training camp.

Rice, always a popular player, was cheered repeatedly by fans when he was shown on the big screen at M&T Bank Stadium and was given a standing ovation when he raced a child along the sidelines. Rice, who plans to speak for the first time on the suspension on Thursday, has issued only a statement so far:

“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 Thursday. “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.”

Meanwhile, the controversy over the two-game suspension for the incident in which he knocked out his then-fiancee in the elevator of an Atlantic City casino and dragged her limp body into the hallway, goes on. Rice was arrested after the incident, but entered a pretrial diversion program and his record will be expunged if he completes it successfully.


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