It's kind of sad, sometimes, how things can turn around in a year. Last February, Ray Rice was the star running back for the Baltimore Ravens. He and his team had just won the Super Bowl, and he had had another great year on the field, his fifth in the league at a position where most guys are lucky to limp away in one piece after no more than four.
And then, this past season, Ray had the worst season of his career, running for 600-some yards and scoring only four touchdowns as the Ravens failed to make the playoffs for the first time since he's been around. But off the field, he gained respect from millions for his advocacy of anti-bullying campaigns. He was on Twitter and Facebook a lot, speaking out on the topic in general and offering viewpoints on specific cases. There was one in which a young lady from Howard County committed suicide after being the victim of a putdown campaign from some dipsticks in her school. Rice took the lead on the response to that and led a Saturday seminar of high school leaders to promote healing and better behavior. In short, it was a year when a football hero became thought of more for his anti-bullying efforts than for what he did on the football field.
And then, the other night in Atlantic City, just before 3 AM on Saturday, Ray and his fiancée were arrested, each for striking the other in some sort of physical mêlée outside a casino. Both were released from custody and face misdemeanor charges in New Jersey, and neither of them have spoken publicly. We don't know all the facts and should not come to any conclusions, but I have to point out again that nothing good happens after midnight when you're out. Believe that.
He makes more money on every autumn Sunday than you and I do, unless we're lucky in Lotto or at the casino he was visiting. It's taken Ray six years in Baltimore to build his reputation as a great player and a generous neighbor and part of the community. In just a few minutes on the boardwalk in a chilly seaside resort, he managed to undo a lot of that good will. It's not too late to get it back, but how nice it would have been not to lose it in the first place.