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Despite Ray Rice’s promise to donate entire paycheck, Lions won’t touch him

The Detroit Lions need to stay as far away from Rice as possible.

Ray Rice Press Conference Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images

Ray Rice is back in the news. The former Baltimore Ravens running back is desperate to return to the NFL after video incriminating him of domestic abuse forced the Ravens to cut him in 2013. The video was so shocking to most that no team has dared to touch him since.

However, Rice is trying to improve his image to build a comeback:

It’s certainly commendable for Rice to offer his entire paycheck to domestic violence charities. This proposition not only shows his resolve to improve his image, but it also displays his hunger for playing football, even if it means not earning a cent.

This seemingly charitable act will no doubt perk up fans of the Detroit Lions. Ever since the Ravens released Rice in 2013, fans have been clamoring to pick up Rice. In some ways, it makes sense. The last time Rice played was under current Lions head coach Jim Caldwell. And the Lions have made clear with their pursuit of Arian Foster they are still looking to upgrade the running back position.

However, there is absolutely no reason the Lions should make this move. It would destroy their credibility, immediately throw into question Bob Quinn’s judgment and it probably wouldn’t even help the team that much.

Let’s start with the obvious: since the Lions made a management switch, they have been adamant they have a zero tolerance policy on domestic abuse. In fact, just a month ago Lions owner Martha Ford was honored by a local public safety foundation for said policy. Ray Rice may be honestly regretful and sorry for what he did, but zero tolerance is zero tolerance. If Rice were to become a Lion, the franchise would be outed as frauds.

Quinn has stuck by Ford with this policy, and if he were to renege on that promise in his first year as the team’s general manager, he would lose any goodwill that was earned over his first six months as the GM. "The two things that are zero tolerance are domestic violence and dangerous weapons," Quinn said in his introductory press conference in January. There’s no chance Quinn goes back on that word, and if he did, Lions fans (myself definitely included) would lose all respect for him.

Finally, Ray Rice may not even be an improvement on the Lions current set of running backs. Rice hasn’t played football in two seasons, and the last time he did, he averaged a mere 3.1 yards per carry (with Caldwell as his offensive coordinator). Rice would certainly come motivated, but Detroit already has a guy looking to resurrect his career (Stevan Ridley), and they already have a few younger options that offer more potential and promise (Ameer Abdullah, Zach Zenner). Making a risky signing like Rice could potentially bounce a player with high ceiling off the roster completely.

I know fans like to drool at the idea of a former Pro Bowler donning the Honolulu Blue, but this is a no-brainer. Adding Rice would destroy the credibility of the franchise’s front office claim to care about domestic abuse. It would erase Bob Quinn’s reputation before his first season was underway. And it likely wouldn’t even improve the team. Hard pass.

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After winning their first NFC North title in 30 years, the Lions have unfinished business this offseason. Stay updated with Jeremy Reisman through Pride of Detroit Direct, our newsletter offering up exclusive analysis. Sign up with NFCNORTH30 to get 30% off after your free trial.