Ray Rice will contribute to the NFL's annual social responsibility presentation to players and staff this year. The former running back for the Ravens, whose career came to an end after video emerged of him punching his fiancée in an elevator in 2014, will discuss the impact his behavior had on his life.
"We shot a video that just highlights everything that I've been talking about decision-making, how things happened in my life, how things unfolded," Rice said. The guys get to hear it from me, how it unraveled."
This is the first time Rice has formally worked with the NFL since the elevator video became public in September 2014. The segment he worked on with the NFL will be a short component of what is generally an hourlong program for all its employees.
"I've been building relationships with [the NFL front office], and it's a mutual thing," Rice told ESPN. "The NFL has a great platform, they reach a lot of people. It's part of our responsibility to reach out for not the on field opportunity but off field too."
This is the fourth year that the NFL has put together a video and educational program related specifically to conduct issues. Last year the emphasis was on DUI, sexual assault and gun safety. In past years, the NFL asked former wide receiver Donte Stallworth to participate in a video on driving under the influence. Stallworth was suspended from the NFL for a year in 2009 after pleading guilty to DUI manslaughter.
This year the NFL is hoping to focus on healthy choices and healthy masculinity for the video, which will ultimately be released for schools and other programs to use in educating athletes and students.
"We started bouncing the idea around where what if Ray could share the journey he'd been on and the choices that led him to his series of bad decisions that led him to where he is now," said Anna Isaacson, the NFL's senior vice president of social responsibility. "And that wasn't an easy decision to make."
Rice has spent the last three years with his now-wife Janay and their two children, Rayven and Jaylen, and the family has moved back to the area where he grew up. In the time since his act of violence became a symbol of the NFL's failings to deal with this issue, Rice has been to therapy and tried to learn about the issue. He has also spoken to high school and college teams about the importance of decision-making.
Rice's video was the catalyst the NFL used to revamp its personal conduct policies and educational program, including issues such as domestic violence and information about issues like consent in the context of sexual assault.
"I think that the league now, when my situation happened we knew that the policy wasn't strong enough," Rice said. "The one thing I know the league is doing they're continuing to educate these players and the severity of this issue. You look at a guy like Joe Mixon, and I don't know him personally, but you'd hope before the draft anyone who has an opportunity to mentor him, make him understand the real issues."
Like Rice's video, a video of Oklahoma prospect Joe Mixon has sparked discussion about how much has changed in terms of what the NFL will tolerate from players. In that video, Mixon punches a woman. Although it is technically not domestic violence since he wasn't in a relationship with the woman in the video, Mixon's assault will not prevent him from being drafted.
"I really hope the kid has exhausted all his resources to really, to really understand what this issue is," Rice said. "I would not be opposed to telling him my story, but he'll get a chance to see it."
At age 30, Rice would still like to play professional football, although no NFL team has signed him since he became the face of a massive perception problem for the league. His biggest contribution now may be to try to prevent other players from making the same mistake.
"I think that my résumé on the field and off the field, the way things unraveled, they will hear a true message and hopefully it changes the way you think," Rice said.