“Man, he’s just a good guy. As a fan, you want to root for a guy like that. You know his story, and he’s salt of the Earth. He happens to be a leader, a quarterback in the NFL – I know the media has a job to do, and you respect what comes with the territory, but we know this isn’t a big story because it’s not controversial. You always want to root for that guy who is helping people, and what he’s doing off the field is 10 times more important than what he is doing on the field.”
Those were the words of Ray Rice, who joined Carton & Roberts on WFAN on Monday to discuss an event he held last weekend where he helped feed 10,000 people in Baltimore. Deshaun Watson, the subject of that quote above, helped Rice do so, and the discussion of the topic led the former running back to wax poetic on mental health and athletes.
“At this point in my life, I get joy in understanding that the only thing that mattered to the people showing up to my events was fantasy points, not my mental health,” Rice said. “Giving back helps my mental health, because I’m still in a position to help people. It’s a whole thing that goes along with it, but there’s a real deal out there. You think Vincent Jackson couldn’t have had a brother’s shoulder to lean on? He was doing the same things I’m doing with military families, and look at the outcome.”
Jackson, of course, was found dead in a hotel in Tampa last week, and had reportedly been battling chronic alcoholism after retiring from the NFL. Rice’s point, though, was that very little light has been shined on some of the positive endeavors undertaken by athletes, with the dark side of sports the side that gets the most. He has been to that lowest point after his domestic violence situation, and knows what it takes to overcome that darkness.
“I think they’re trying, but like you said, that’s not controversy until somebody goes off or something wild happens. It is a real thing; I understand it from a rehab stag, where I’m still seeing a psychiatrist and a neurologist and a counselor, I’m not ashamed of that,” Rice said. “You come out of football, and the only thing you really remember is the highs and lows – and all those people that were there when it was good, they aren’t there anymore when something goes wrong. Anybody who is real and understands that, understands you need help. I tried to be the best I could be and I failed miserably. That’s when I started realizing help is real.”
That led Rice back to Watson, whose desire to get out of Houston has been one of the hottest topics of a scalding NFL hot stove season.
“Look at that situation – how is it, from the outside looking in, to see JJ Watt ask for a trade and they let him go? Deshaun is unhappy, but it seems like there’s no movement there,” Rice said. “It definitely is a sketchy situation, but we all watch football – if a good play happened with the Texans, it’s because Deshaun made it happen.”
Rice at least hopes Watson gets to a place where he can be the happy person Rice knows he can be.
“Me, understanding football and game planning, I know that when every team comes in and says we have to stop Deshaun Watson and we’ll win – they’re not just talking about him passing,” Rice said. “They’re talking about him getting the same attention as Lamar Jackson or Patrick Mahomes. Yes, he is a franchise quarterback, and the right thing needs to be done by him. That’s football, but I just want him to be happy.”
Listen to Ray Rice’s entire appearance on Carton & Roberts below!