NFL training camps are well underway, but for the first time since 2007, Ray Rice hasn't been invited to one. Since being cut by the Baltimore Ravens in September 2014 for his brutal domestic violence incident against his wife, Janay, no NFL team has publicly expressed interest in signing the troubled former Pro Bowler.
That is, until this week, when two NFL owners went on record stating they hoped to see Ray Rice get a second chance in the league.
Before their preseason opener on Thursday night, Cleveland Browns owner Jim Haslem spoke to ESPN reporter Bob Holtzman on Rice, saying "I'd like to see him get another shot."
Because football matters more than morality, the Browns, who are coincidentally in need of a running back who actually wants the starting job, have discussed signing Rice. Browns head coach Mike Pettine told Sports Illustrated on Tuesday that, "We've talked about it, but I don't think we're there at this point."
The team's running backs coach Wilbert Montgomery, who was Rice's position coach in Baltimore, has been openly critical of the running backs he has in camp, leading some outlets to presume that Montgomery is pushing for Rice's signing.
The Browns haven't been the only team with Rice on their mind this week. Ravens owner Steve Bisciotti, the man who released Rice in September and whose organization reportedly told Janay to apologize for getting hit, was (of course) bullish on his future NFL opportunities.
"I think enough people are coming around a year later and saying he deserves a second chance," Bisciotti told Sirius XM NFL Radio. "We at the Ravens wholeheartedly agree ... I hope like hell he gets that opportunity."
For his part, Rice remains optimistic that an NFL team will reach out with an offer.
"I have to set my hope and faith and everything else that I'm doing in my life, I'm just really hopeful for a second chance," he told ESPN's Jemele Hill earlier this month.
“Sometimes it takes years for a batterer to change their behavior," Ruth M. Glenn, executive director of National Coalition Against Domestic Violence told The Huffington Post in July.
"And from what we witnessed in that particular incident, I’m just not convinced that what we have is a healthy person," she added.
Houston Texans owner Bob McNair is one NFL owner whose recent comments on Rice weren't a public endorsement of Rice's desire to return to the field. Texans star running back Arian Foster is sidelined for several weeks due to injury, which has opened the door for speculation about the Texans' interest in Rice.
McNair, however, swatted that talk down on Thursday, telling ESPN, "I think I'd want to talk with our players, and I don't know that that's something that they would like."
"We want people that fit in our locker room," he continued. "As I said, it's all about teamwork. And look, we've got four good running backs. I don't know that he's as good as any of the four we've got. I don't see anybody else trying to sign him, so I think that's a pretty good indication of where he stands."
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