John F. Russell: Ray Rice would never look right in blue and orange

John F. Russell

As a longtime Bronco fan, I’ve fallen in love with many of the players who have worn blue and orange throughout the years.

But I admit that I didn’t give many of these players a second look when they were off the field.

My heroes include John Elway, Terrell Davis, Shannon Sharpe, Floyd Little, Randy Gradishar and Karl Mecklenburg. And most of the guys I’ve cheers for throughout the years have managed to stay out of the headlines.

I mean, I cheered for Bill Romanowski when he was a Bronco, but I can’t say I’m a big fan. I appreciated his tougher-than-nails mentality and the way he intimidated players on the other side of the field. My allegiance, however, started to falter when he spit on J.J. Stokes. His life after football has made me take a long look at who he was as a player and the legacy he leaves behind.

This week, the Empire News ran a spoof story that was, of course, not real that stated Ray Rice had signed with the Denver Broncos and would start playing as soon as his contract was finalized.

For a second, I thought the headline was real, but then that single second caused me to stop for several minutes and consider what signing Rice would mean. Part of me — the part that wants to see the Broncos get to and win another Super Bowl — was excited to see what a back like Rice could do in the thin mountain air that surrounds Denver.

But the other side of me remembers the video tape and what Rice did to his fiancée and now wife, Janay (Palmer) Rice, in an elevator of an Atlantic City casino. It was so bad that the only team I can see Rice playing for would have Paul “Wrecking” Crewe, from the film “The Longest Yard,” as its quarterback.

I get it. It would be tempting to sign a guy like Rice, and there is no question he could fill a hole and fuel the Broncos’ drive for another Super Bowl appearance.

But at what cost?

There is no way I would cheer for a guy like Rice even if he was dressed from head to toe in blue and orange. The image of him striking his wife and then pulling her lifeless body out of an elevator leaves an image in my mind that will never fade — even if he came to Denver and rushed for 1,000 yards next season.

Let’s face it, Rice will sign with another team soon, and like so many other football stars, his success on the field will make people forget about what he did in Atlantic City. He will follow in the footsteps of players such as Michael Vick, who went to prison but was welcomed back to the NFL with open arms after serving 18 months for running a dog fighting ring.

As fans of the game, we need to demand more from the players who represent our city and our state on the gridiron. We should expect more from the players and we should demand that the teams we cheer for turn their backs on guys like Rice, and that we never turn our backs on domestic violence.

To reach John F. Russell, call 970-871-4209, email or follow him on Twitter @Framp1966

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