Ravens Update

Before Ray Rice left the stage following an anti-bullying event Friday night, the NFL star handed out a handful of $20 bills to kids for performing various dance moves and doing pushup

The Baltimore Ravens' All-Pro running back and franchise player also delivered a lighthearted message to general manager Ozzie Newsome, telling the crowd at Merriweather Post Pavilion: "Call Ozzie Newsome and tell him to pay me." Although time is running short for contract negotiations to accelerate and no deal is imminent at this time heading into a Monday afternoon NFL deadline to sign franchise players to long-term deals, Rice remains upbeat about his prospects of landing a new contract. Unless Rice is signed to a new deal by the close of NFL business Monday at 4 p.m., then he'll play this year under a $7.742 million franchise tag. "I'll always keep it real for you, but I'm always optimistic," Rice said when asked about his contract situation."God has put me in a position where not too many people can say they've been. I never played for the dollars and all of that other stuff.

"My rookie contract, quite frankly, you just signed it and go play football. So, this is a little bit different of an experience for me. Needless to say, what puts a smile on my face is that no matter the money I made, I still get to go out here and kids get to see me and smile." Rice didn't elaborate on the specifics of contract discussions between his agent, Todd France, and Ravens senior vice president of football administration Pat Moriarty. "I'm here for the bullying event," Rice said. As an unsigned franchise player, Rice has remained absent from all team activities this offseason.

If a deal is hammered out for Rice, it's expected to be similar to Philadelphia Eagles running back LeSean McCoy's five-year, $45.615 million contract that includes an $8.5 million signing bonus and $20.765 million in guaranteed money and Houston Texans running back Arian Foster's five-year, $43.5 million contract extension that includes a $12.5 million signing bonus with $20.75 million in guaranteed money. Guaranteed money for Rice could exceed those deals.

"They need to get Ray Rice in the fold," former Washington Redskins quarterback Joe Theismann told the Scout on Friday. "He does everything. That's what makes Ray Rice so unique. I liken him to a more versatile Emmitt Smith. The Cowboys never really threw the ball to Emmitt, but he was diminutive in size like Ray and tough, durable and elusive and he always finished runs.

"The big thing about Ray is he's the same way, but he's a much more integral part of what the Ravens want to do throwing the football. I liken him to an Emmitt Smith type of a back." Rice rushed for a career-high 1,364 yards and a dozen touchdowns last season. He led the NFL with 2,068 yards from scrimmage and set a franchise record with 15 total touchdowns last season. Rice also registered a team-high 76 receptions for 704 yards and three touchdowns.

"Ray Rice is a borderline superstar," former New York Giants quarterback Phil Simms, a CBS NFL analyst, said in a telephone interview. "What does he mean to the team? It's priceless. He's been a terrific pro football player. I thought he would be good, but he's even better than I thought he was."

NFL teams have been hesitant to pay running backs top dollar, particularly after Minnesota Vikings running back Adrian Peterson tore his anterior cruciate ligament after signing a $100 million contract last year and Tennessee Titans running back Chris Johnson's disappointing season after inking a $56 million deal.

"Unfortunately for Ray, running backs in the NFL there's such a stereotype on how to handle them and pay them," Simms said. "It's almost impossible to break the mold. A lot of them will pay the price and not make the money they deserve. Some teams put no priority on running backs. Of course, there's a short life span and it's become part of the NFL culture where owners and general managers are very reluctant to invest money into the second contract. What happened to Adrian Peterson will make all of them even more nervous.

"It's tough for a Ray Rice, but he's a franchise player and that's awesome. Just stay healthy, play well and let them franchise you again. The payday for Ray is still a lot of money. With what he means to the team, that's not enough for Ray Rice. I feel bad for him. I feel bad for NFL running backs. They're caught in a situation where they're not going to win the war, at least not most of them. Ray could get a long-term deal, you never know. I hope it works out for him." A former Rutgers star drafted in the second round by the Ravens four years ago, Rice has been selected to two Pro Bowls. The Ravens have acknowledged that Rice has outplayed his $3.553 million rookie contract, but haven't been able to work out a new deal for him yet.

Rice said that kids occasionally ask him about his finances as a professional athlete.

"Usually, you get the questions about how much money you make and I tell them if they work hard, they can make the same," Rice said. "They ask the simple questions that they want to know about being a pro athlete, but the one thing I tell them about life and opportunity, is that just because I play in the NFL doesn't mean you won't have the same opportunity. If you wake up every day and you're breathing, you have the same opportunity that I had. Quite frankly, you just have to work as hard as possible and that will give you a chance."

Ray Rice speaks out against bullying

COLUMBIA -- Stopping the scourge of bullying became an even more important cause for Baltimore Ravens Pro Bowl running back Ray Rice when it impacted his family.

Rice's younger sister was bullied by another girl when he was in middle school and was struck in the eye with a rock.

"My mom was telling me she wanted to let my sister go take care of business, you know, you take care of it one time and maybe she won't bother you no more," Rice said. "I told my mom it's not the right thing to do. The school will take care of it. We got the principal involved, we got the police involved. I think we got it under control.

"I want to get the message out that some people are not alone. If you feel like you're in that dark cloud, you got to speak up because the only help to recovery is admitting that something is wrong."

Speaking to a large group of kids and parents Friday night at Merriweather Post Pavilion at "A Ray of Hope," Rice left the crowd with a strong message about not retaliating and utilizing the proper channels to seek assistance.

During the pro-kindness, anti-bullying, teen prevention event, Rice referenced the suicide of 15-year-old Grace McComas.

McComas endured months of cyber bullying before the Glenelg student killed herself on Eastern Sunday this year.

After that tragedy unfolded, Rice spoke at a similar anti-bullying forum at Howard High School.

"Well you know after I heard about the story about the little girl losing her life over somebody's words, you can't imagine somebody's life being taken over words," Rice said. "I live by the creed that sticks and stones they break your bones, but words can never hurt you. In this case, words killed somebody. When you think about it, we all put ourselves in somebody's shoes, a different family's shoes.

"Whether we have kids or not, we can feel that family's pain. I felt that pain and I felt like it's time for me to be a voice out there. In another situation, you're talking about retaliation. That's not the kind of retaliation that you need in this kind of situation. It's getting your voice out there to help any other situation."

Rice was raised in a rough neighborhood in New Rochelle, N.Y. by Janet Rice, a single mother who teaches special-needs children.

Janet Rice has motivated her son to give back by using his status as a professional athlete.

" I don't want to take away from parents, but people respond to athletes," Rice said. "Some of these kids look at me as a role model. The main thing I try to share is my story because I can relate to many different situations in life. I can relate to adversity.

"I can relate to change. I can relate to poverty. I can relate to a lot of things. When I speak and hear a crowd that really pays attention, it makes me feel good about doing something."

Rice made the point that it's difficult to change bullies' behavior, but noted that they should be motivated by wanting to avoid a life of crime and potential incarceration.

"Anybody will tell you that they don't want to see jail," Rice said. "If anybody tells you that they grow up and they want to see jail, they're lying to you. Jail ain't the right place for you, no matter how troubled your household is. I don't think essentially you can go ahead and say we're going to change a bully's behavior. Their behavior has started at home.

"If that kid is running around hitting people and he's talking back and he has a foul mouth, what do you think he's doing when he gets to school? The same exact thing. I can't tell you how to raise your child, but I'm just one that came from a household where my mother was the queen and the king of the household. I knew what it was to show respect and quite frankly, that's how I treat people now every day of my life."

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