Before he was an NFL all-pro running back and Super Bowl champion turned NFL black sheep, Ray Rice was a star at Rutgers and, before that, New Rochelle High School in Westchester County, just outside New York. Rice was such a dominant rusher that he broke a host of school records and later had his number 5 retired by the school.
Like a number of other pro athletes, Rice’s professional jersey was also proudly displayed on a wall of the school’s gymnasium. Not anymore. As reported by Gannett partner The Journal News, Rice’s Ravens jersey was taken down on Wednesday, days after a video was released depicting Rice’s horrific in-elevator attack on his then-fiancee, Janay Palmer.
“When you put people up on a wall of fame, it’s an inspiration to the kids in the school,” Steve Young (no not that one), New Rochelle High School’s athletic director, told The Journal News. “It becomes a teachable moment for the kids, that when something like that happens, there’s a consequence.”
Yet, the consequence appears to be a bit confusing, even within the halls of New Rochelle High. While administrators removed Rice’s Ravens jersey, they have yet to take down his number 5 New Rochelle shirt. You can see it still hanging on the wall in the before and after photos above.
Additionally, Young indicated that the jersey could be returned to its place on the wall in the future, telling the newspaper that the Ravens jersey could be re-hung based on his response to the charges facing him.
“This wasn’t permanent, but it’s a message to our kids that actions like this have consequences,” Young told The Journal News. “He’s done some great things for this community, so we support him and his family. When you look at all of the great things that he’s done here, no one is walking away from him. We want him to come by. Ray has a lot of work to do, but we’re here for him. We want to help him, and we want to make him feel part of this.”
That is in sharp contrast to how Rice is perceived across the rest of the nation. The NFL’s indefinite suspension could very well keep him out of top-flight professional football in America for the remainder of his life, and there’s little doubt that he surpassed Michael Vick’s status as NFL pariah-par-excellence when TMZ released the in-elevator video footage of his attack on Palmer.
Whether that keeps him off the wall at New Rochelle remains to be seen. It’s hard to think of a school justifying Rice as any kind of a role model for students ever again.