London Fletcher played 16 years in the NFL, spending at least four years with three different franchises (St. Louis, Buffalo and Washington).
Needless to say, Fletcher, who retired last season, knows his way around a locker room. He knows how teammates rally around each other through good times and bad times – especially bad times.
But it’s hard to know exactly what the Baltimore Ravens are feeling right now as they deal with the loss of Ray Rice, who was released by the team – and then suspended indefinitely by the NFL – mere hours after video surfaced Monday of Rice striking his then-fiance, now-wife in an Atlantic City elevator in February.
At this point, what do the Ravens think of their former teammate?
“As teammates, they know Ray better than we do,” Fletcher, a host on “That Other Pregame Show,” said on The MoJo Show. “You know him in the locker room. You know him as a teammate and how he interacts with you. Their interactions with him are unique. They were supportive of him (after the incident came to light) and they were continuing to support him, but they also understand the magnitude of the situation. Nobody’s condoning what (he) did. Obviously, it is disgusting what happened. As teammates, you want to be supportive, but you also recognize when wrong is wrong. That’s the conflict that they’re dealing with. That’s the emotional part.”
Rice, who had originally been suspended for the first two games of the season, was set to rejoin the Ravens this Friday following their Thursday night game against Pittsburgh.
That will no longer be happening.
In fact, some wonder whether Rice will ever play another down in the NFL. Many current and former players are calling for a lifetime ban. Others are calling for jail time. They’re angry that the Ravens and the NFL waited until this video leaked to take substantive action against Rice.
“The NFL didn’t have any choice (to suspend him),” Fletcher said. “The Ravens didn’t have any choice but to release him. I think they knew. Whether they saw the video or not, they had knowledge of what took place in that elevator.”
But is it possible that Rice, 27, really has no future in the league? The 2008 second-round pick has had six highly productive seasons with the Ravens, totaling 9,214 yards and 43 touchdowns (37 rush, six receiving).
Fletcher, however, believes that is not where our focus should be.
“His future in the NFL . . . (is) not the biggest concern,” he said. “The biggest concern is him getting himself together as a man, as a husband. (That’s) a process. I believe in second chances. Everybody makes mistakes. You look at domestic violence. That’s horrific. When you see that part, you understand that something (definitely needs to be done). Whether he’s able to play football again, I think everybody deserves a second chance. I don’t know if it’ll be good for him to play this year. Let’s let him go through the healing process (with) his wife, get help and put some steps in place to allow him to say ‘Hey, you know what? I’ve got myself together, and I deserve a second chance.’”