Lingering injuries to star Baltimore Ravens running back Ray Rice have so far prevented him from being the spark that he provided last season during their Super Bowl championship run. The RB has had hip issues all season that seem to be nagging him still. When asked about his opinion on the injury and how his game has been affected, Rice gave a standard response:
“I’ve been dealing with injuries this year,” he explained. “This has been a different year for me. Everybody plays through different things, and my numbers are what they are, but I’m doing what I can do to help my team.
However, Rice went even more in depth to address the fact that he has already started thinking about retirement:
“It’s always something to think about at the running back position,” Rice said on a conference call Wednesday. “I’ll just put it out there – my goal was to make it 10 years in the NFL. Anything after 10, if I can’t do it the way I want to, then it’s something to think about. But, I’m young. I came in the NFL at 21 years old, a young guy. So, I’m still young; I’m only going to be 27 in January. So, there’s a lot of football left to be played. With that being said, I have priorities too. You know I have a young daughter, and you’ve just got to put all that in perspective when you’re going out there week-in and week-out, especially when you get older in your career.”
At 26 years old right now, Rice would be much closer towards the end of his career than the beginning of it. The age of 30 may seem young for an above-average NFL player to retire, but the average career span of an NFL running back really is only three years. Bad, good, and great running backs come and go in the NFL before the blink of an eye. Arguably the game's most physically demanding position, running back requires a lot from these athletes that choose to claim that title.
Ray Rice is no exception to these limits. Even though he clearly has plenty of good things going for him, the fact that he has proactively thought about his future should be respected rather than criticized. We can also acknowledge that one of the all-time greats, Barry Sanders retired around the age of 30. This seems to be the age where good running backs (to still be in the league at 30 years old, the RB must have been somewhat good) either choose to walk away or watch their careers slowly decline, as there haven't been too many exceptions to this. We will see which decision Ray Rice makes come this time.