John Harbaugh: Ray Rice is a heck of a guy who made a mistake

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Ravens coach John Harbaugh is standing behind running back Ray Rice, who was suspended for the first two games of the regular season for assaulting his wife.

Harbaugh said today that he and his team would get past the suspension and continue to support Rice, one of the team’s veteran leaders.

“It’s not a big deal, it’s just part of the process,” Harbaugh said, via ESPN. “There are consequences when you make a mistake like that. I stand behind Ray. He’s a heck of a guy. He’s done everything right since. He makes a mistake, alright? He’s going to have to pay a consequence. I think that’s good for kids to understand it works that way. That’s how it works, that’s how it should be.”

To many, Harbaugh’s comments will come off as too supportive of Rice, and not reflective enough of the gravity of the situation. That’s also a criticism the Ravens as a franchise received when they arranged a press conference for Rice and his wife in May. Whether Harbaugh meant it this way or not, calling Rice’s crime a “mistake” suggests that it was a relatively minor transgression, and saying that it’s good for kids to learn from it suggests that there’s some kind of silver lining to this story. Harbaugh’s comments struck the wrong note.

109 responses to “John Harbaugh: Ray Rice is a heck of a guy who made a mistake

  1. no one saw 1st half of video, must not been as bad as everyone says it was .[who never saw it anyway]

  2. Stop twisting the story around. He’s saying that as a lesson for kids if you make a bad mistake or decision you have to pay the consequences. Flat out.

  3. Guess even people who do make large mistakes are never supposed to be allowed to learn and become better for it… Grow up ppl

  4. I don’t know if someone can be a “heck of a guy” when they’re uppercutting their fiancé and dragging her out of an elevator. Bottom line Ray Rice is a woman beating POS.

  5. Hey, c’mon, his now wife apologized for her ‘mistake’ by getting in the way of his fist and ‘causing’ him to knock her out. If she doesn’t have a problem, why should Harbaugh.

  6. No excuse to ever hit a woman. Never.
    John should be very thankful for the leniency shown by the Commissioner. Rice should have been suspended for 6 games to send a stronger message.

  7. Doing long division and forgetting to carry the remainder is a mistake.

    Uppercutting the woman you’re going to marry into orbit is not.

  8. Two questions for Harbaugh: How would you feel if it was your daughter?

    If Rice was the third RB on the depth chart would you still be standing behind him or would his locker be taken by another player?

    NFL Coaches are a joke.

  9. Running into a parked car is a mistake. Hitting the woman you allegedly love so hard she is knocked unconscious is the act of a fundamentally disgusting human being.

  10. Absolutely, he just beat up his wife until she was unconscious. Maybe a little blow to the head? Heck of guy and little mistake. We all do it, right? It’s not like he ran a stop sign or something.

  11. Wow. NFL exudes pure class. 2 games for this combined with harbaugh’s comments…. Just mind boggling.
    Forgiving and moving forward is necessary, but totally excusing this behavior is shocking. Even by NFL standards.

  12. Except for the fact that isn’t a message to kids at all. This isn’t how it happens in the non-NFL real world. If someone punches another person in the face and knocks them out and it’s caught on tape they likely go to jail and and potentially lose their job because of it. They don’t get a slap on the wrist and backing from their superiors about how much of a stand up person they are.

  13. Is it just me or is the NFL promoting it’s own image problem this year?

    Dungy speaks his mind thinking like a coach who has to evaluate players–and has to soften his words. Harbaugh sounds like a defense lawyer here on his first (and likely last) case. Yup, we’ll see Harbaugh back on the record in less than a day to “clarify his statements” (code for, hey you fool, get out there and fix the stupid comments you just made).

  14. “It’s not a big deal, it’s just part of the process”

    Man… and you thought player development in Miami had some problems.

  15. Yeah, Harbaugh sounds a bit too indifferent or lazy on this but then again I don’t know the guy personally to know how to interpret a couple of sentences on paper.

    Merely accepting the punishment is not something to applaud; that’s the bare minimum. Perhaps Ray and his wife have actually dealt with the situation, moved on and improved their marriage and personal character through the process. If so, good for them. But THAT is what should be applauded.

    Even in light of that, there’s absolutely no reason to defend the guy. Public Perception IS part of the consequence, folks.

    Regardless, it’s always interesting to see how differently people respond to abusing women, to say the least.

  16. Let me guess Harbaugh, you stand behind all your players who have been arrested this offseason? Pathetic, just like this Ravens team. This team will never do anything without ol Ray Lewis, when he left, the “heart” of the team left, and there is nothing left now. Now one of the leaders is a wife beater.

  17. Smacking the crap out of your wife to the degree that it renders her unconscious, is not a “mistake” and is something usually not done by a “heck of a guy”. Are we living in the 1800’s?

  18. Those responsible for deciding this lenient
    punishment, should be forced to take questions and explain themselves, and their decision making process.

    If they can’t be consistent, then scrap this
    suspension BS. It’s obvious they are making
    this up as they go, and playing favorites.
    It’s amateur hour at the league office.
    For shame!

  19. indywilson did you see it,might have just got pushed and hit rail.

  20. “No excuse to ever hit a woman. Never.
    John should be very thankful for the leniency shown by the Commissioner. Rice should have been suspended for 6 games to send a stronger message.”

    so even if a women is beating on your face you should just walk away?? i thought we were supposed to embrace equality??

    you wanna act like a man and fight like a man?? be prepared to get hit like a man

    sorry women don’t get equality only when it benefits themselves

  21. Well as Rice continues on with his career I can’t think of a better coach for him to be paired up with. They are a perfectly compatible match and deserve each other.

  22. Surely there’s some kind of mistake. You sure they didn’t accidentally interview JIM instead if John? They do look a lot alike, and I would expect this half hearted response from Jim.

  23. he shouldn’t be suspended, he should be in jail.

    Josh Gordon out a year for smoking pot. Ray Rice Uppercutting a woman gets 2 games. Give me a break.

  24. How is he not in jail for assault.
    NFL sets poor example for impressionable youth by letting him off with a wrist slap.

  25. One of the worse messages in this whole story is the fiancee saying it was her fault. This is one of the big hurdles to overcome in domestic violence cases. The victim taking the blame for the event is a dangerous message. Even if she “started it”, Rice needed to restrain her, not knock her unconscious and drag her out of an elevator. Then they get married and she knows would never have to testify against him.

  26. This is remarkably bad reporting. PFT blatantly took the press conference out of context for the sole purpose of generating web views. Who’s capitalizing on a terrible situation now?

    If you actually watched the press conference, Harbaugh made those comments when responding to how he and the rest of the team would approach the start of training camp. His comment that it “wasn’t a big deal” meant that he wouldn’t let it affect the rest of the team and was not in any way condoning Rice’s actions. What Rice did was undoubtedly a mistake – a terrible and appalling one – that should never have happened. Harbaugh was not trying to write it off as if it was a one-time thing – he emphasized neither he nor the team condoned what happened (obviously), but that the team stood behind Rice while he was learning from his actions, which is the only thing he should be doing now. Should Harbaugh have been more forceful in decrying what happened? Yes. Should the NFL have suspended Rice for more games? Yes. But PFT should also be held accountable to actually report the truth and not take quotes out of context in an effort to make more money.

  27. Can Coach Harbaugh please clarify as to what part of this situation is “not a big deal”? Knocking a woman unconcious or the slap on the wrist “punishment”?

  28. Apparently beating women is common in the NFL to be able to call this just a mistake. Roger Goodell, John Harbaugh should we ask how your wives are doing?

  29. yep.. some people get life in prison for a single mistake.

    A person with character doesn’t knock out a woman like that. Hope he’s not in jail for murder next….

  30. @footballer1000

    Should the Ravens have cut Ray?

    Yes, if they care at all about their image, support for abused women, etc.

    We’ve all seen instances of less egregious domestic violence result in players losing their place in the team. Apparently the money is too good to trump the character of your players and how they treat members of the general public. Message has been sent. Ravens will stand behind you no matter what as long as you keep enriching them

  31. Well, given the lack of character of Harbaugh, Mr. 100% Legal, 100% Ethical, I would say that by John’s standard, Ray is a heck of a guy. Congratulations Ray! You’re in the same class with you scum bag coach!

  32. Punching a girl disqualifies you from the heck of a guy category, completely and permanently.

  33. What is it with Harbaugh and this guy?

    his attitude towards Rice undermines everything else he’s done.

    Character? important for everyone but Ray Rice

    best players will play? applies to everyone but Ray Rice

    cant wait for the day he is no longer a Raven. he’s always been wildly overrated as a player and person

  34. That’s what wife beaters tell their victims – it was just a mistake, I’m sorry, will never happen again. Until it inevitably happens again because someone who would assault their partner has deeper issues. It wasn’t just, whoopsie, I knocked you out, my bad! Ray Rice has issues and it will never be fixed by everyone, especially his team, rushing to sweep it under the rug and give him a slap on the wrist.

  35. Sambaugh….as additional to your post….when the woman apologizes, and says it was her fault, it probably has happened before. I’d bet anything this wasn’t the first time, it’s just the first time that he was caught on tape beating her.

    Disgusting organization, disgusting player and coach. Extraordinary that Harbaugh says “it’s not a big deal.” This is a hundred times worse than any “gate” that has happened in the NFL.

  36. Come on – quit being so harsh.

    Which one of us “nice guys” hasn’t made the mistake of punching our fiances in the face, knocking them out and then dragging them out of an elevator by their hair????

    Harbaugh brothers have an ‘interesting’ take on what constitutes acceptable behavior by their players.

  37. Smartest thing this clown could have done was say NOTHING!!! By making a statement supporting the wife-beater you’re just saying, “it’s okay Ray. We support what you did”…

  38. I thought ever man knew that you should never, ever, strike a woman… you pinch them on the back of their arm REEEALLY HAAARRD

  39. I know pro athletes live in a different world that regular folks.

    But screw you Harbaugh….that wasn’t a “mistake”, that’s the actions of a pure scumbag.

    There’s no redeeming behavior like that. Disgusting how soft the NFL is on this. Nice message to women, Roger. Wow.

  40. So let me get this straight, he’s the father of their daughter and her husband, nobody seen a punch only assuming he hit her. Atlantic City police chose not to prosecute. Goodel minimize his suspension It’s a big big difference between beating a person up and hit (singular) someone. all of you condem him. God is a forgiven god, Janaye forgave him and he ask for forgivness
    but y’all chose crucifixion. Sound familar? Seen to me a lot of stone being cast. IJS.

  41. Baltimore Ravens Mission Statement:
    “Our mission is to win football games, serve our fans, and be a positive force in the community.”

    Hmmm…..maybe they should scrap that whole positive force part.

  42. Ray Carreuth is a heck of a guy who made a mistake.
    Ray Lewis is a heck of a guy who made a mistake.
    Aaron Hernandez is a heck of a guy who made a mistake.
    OJ Simspon is a heck of a guy who made a mistake.

  43. Why do we call bad decisions, mistakes? Leaving the cake in the oven too long, yawning and unintentionally hitting your wife in the nose, forgetting to unplug the iron, are mistakes. Using drugs, robbing a bank, drag racing on city streets and beating up on women, are all bad decisions, NOT mistakes! When bad things happen but the actions were unintentional, those are mistakes. When we INTENTIONALLY make choices that we already KNOW can be harmful or hurtful to ourselves or others, those as BAD DECISIONS! Usually we don’t plan on getting caught for our bad decisions. But when we do, we call them mistakes. We ALL need to own our bad decisions and quit calling them mistakes.

  44. Im the biggest of Ravens fan but I do not agree with this ruling. I believe Rice should have got AT LEAST 4-6 games. I wish Newsome would add more games but I know that won’t happen.

    That being said, I have to correct all of you idiots on here making too much of John’s comment. When he said “It’s not a big deal,” he was not referencing the fact that Rice hit his wife. He was saying, “It’s not a big deal,” that we will be without him for two games. Big difference.

  45. Yeah because beating a women unconscious is just a mistake. wonder what other “mistakes are yet to come????

  46. Coach Harbaugh, I love you to death man, but this guy punched a woman and then dragged her around …

  47. surfinbird1 says:Jul 24, 2014 1:29 PM

    John Harbaugh is a moron enabler.

    No, John Harbaugh is a moron.

  48. Does “heck of a guy” translate to “a really good player or we would have cut him”?
    I have many friends that are a heck of a guy, that would never ever put a hand on a woman.

  49. He’s as bad as the Ravens fans who comment on here… What a classless organization

  50. as a football fan i find the way the Ravens handled this very disappointing. sorry. looks like i’ll be rooting for the steelers, browns and bengals to put the Ravens in the cellar…

  51. Listening to NFL Insiders, Mort is pointing out that Rice saved about 200K on his fine because even though this incident happened in Feb (and yes I’m aware that the league year starts in March so technically Feb is part of the 2013 league year), they based the fine on his 2013 salary not his 2014 salary. Typically, fines are based on salary for the year in which the incident is adjudicated.
    We can come down on Goodell for this for sure, but the fact is once again the union bears some responsibility because they agreed to this process in the CBA.

  52. Ray Lewis is a heck of a guy, he just made a mistake too. Oh yeah, where is that white suit?

  53. First off, for ALL you ravens haters, he made a mistake. He let anger get the best of him and reacted without thinking. You all apparently didn’t see the part where she was punching and hitting on him. Granted that doesn’t warrant any kind of physical response on his part BUT he reacted out of anger. I, for one, agree with harbaugh’s comments and response to this situation because a good guy made a bad mistake and he must live with the consequences of it. You guys must forget all of the things he does for the community, and the city of Baltimore. His wife has forgiven him, and Im sure, to him, that’s all that matters. So you ignorant, stuck up people who pass judgment on a person that Im sure you know nothing about, can go kick rocks because Im sure your opinion will not now nor in the future bother him. It is not my place, nor any of you raven hating people’s place to pass judgment on anybody. If you are so naïve to believe that kids will go out and start punching females now because Ray Rice did it, then you need start looking at the parents of those children because MY children know better. So as I have said, Ray is a stand up guy and a great role model and he is atoning for the mistake he made.

  54. “John Harbaugh: Ray Rice is a heck of a guy who made a mistake”

    Welcome to the Harbaugh School of Ethics.



  55. jjackwagon says:
    Jul 24, 2014 2:48 PM

    Ray Carreuth is a heck of a guy who made a mistake.
    Ray Lewis is a heck of a guy who made a mistake.
    Aaron Hernandez is a heck of a guy who made a mistake.
    OJ Simspon is a heck of a guy who made a mistake

    Ray Carruth- Doing life in prison for murder

    All you people think because a guy lost his temper and let the anger get the best of him that now all of a sudden he should be cast aside. And I can guarantee that everyone on here has done something that isn’t looked at as acceptable, one time or another, and want to pass judgment on someone because that person is a football player. THAT IS CALLED A HYPOCRITE!

  56. Good thing it wasn’t a Muslim woman in Saudi Arabia. Rice would be carrying his head around instead of the football. The NFL discipline system is a joke. No wonder players get into so much trouble…no consequences.

    Boy, but chop a guy out of bounds after the whistle blows out of exuberance and that’s worse than murder.

  57. Harbaugh has no control of this team or the players.
    The inmates are running the jail
    Just a matter of time before he is out the door.
    Ravens below .500 this year

  58. ballsohardfaithful87, you’re looking foolish and/or have been in trouble for the same type offense. You sound like you also have anger issues, hope you have no family(or pets).

  59. In-game violence involving “bounties”: Season long suspension

    Domestic violence/abuse: Suspended for a few games

    This should unequivocally put to rest the notion that the NFL is something more than a profit driven enterprise.

  60. Let’s not confuse work place ramifications of behavior, and legal ramifications to behavior.

    Legally, RR has already dealt with this issue.

    As far as his workplace, now we know how the league has decided to deal with him.

    Answer, me this? If a guy has never had legal issues. Never had issues of assaulting people, or domestic problems. Never had alcohol or drug issues. He has an upstanding history of helping children. He commits this crime, and he’s a scumbag for life? Is that how it works? No one can ever change? Rehabilitate? Learn from his mistakes?

    I get it. Hitting a woman is nothing he should ever do.

    You don’t have to be a Christian to understand repentance and forgiveness. But you do need a brain! That excludes most PFT posters.

  61. Hernandez, allegedly, accidently killed a few guys. It was just a mistake. We support all the Hernandez’s and Rice’s out there.

  62. @bunkmcnulty

    Uhhhh, yes.

    If you ball up your fist, hit a woman in the face enough times to knock her unconscious, especially a woman you are supposed to be in love with, and then, instead of calling for a medic, you drag her out of the elevator by her hair to stash her in a corner….

    You are in fact, a scumbag for life.

    And if your coach dismisses such actions as if akin to RR losing his temper in a bar after 3 hrs of being taunted by some ahole fan of another team… A MALE AHOLE FAN… he is also a scumbag.


  63. @lowerIQthanyou

    Glad to know that people can never change. Can never improve. Can never learn. Can never work harder to make themselves better.

    Who’s the Ahole?

  64. @higher… did he stash her in a corner? Did he strike her multiple times? These are all things I’m just hearing… from you.

  65. I know, he is a heck of a guy.
    But why is he all of sudden he’s headbutting players, spitting at them and oh, beating a woman then drags the unconcious woman.
    Obviously he’s a jerk

  66. so, next time a player gets frustrated, if he has to choose btw beating his girl and tokin a jay- he should do what in the best interest of his career?

  67. John Harbaugh went on to say,

    “…but did you hear what Richard Sherman said after the NFC Championship game????

    My gosh!!! How can the league let its image be tarnished so!”

  68. awwwww look at all these ravens haters.

    it’s funny….why don’t you all list who your favorite team is. chances are john harbaugh has a winning record against it. actually…he probably owns them.


  69. What team Ray Rice is on doesn’t matter. I’m a Ravens-hating Steelers fan but if a Steeler did what Rice did, he’s not a man. What he did to her has nothing to do with his profession. It just speaks to his moral worth and decency as a person. And the fact that Harbaugh is just backing him up gives you a view into his soul as well. They are both idiots and Ray Rice doesn’t deserve to walk among free men.

  70. Sorry, but its not the NFL’s job to educate, and teach lessons about domestic violence.
    Well, actually, it is. It is EVERYONE’s responsibility. And since the NFL has the potential to reach hundreds of millions of people, it’s even more on them. “To whom much is given, much is expected.”

  71. Hey, coach: 3+3=7 is a MISTAKE. Aggravated assault is a FELONY. However, the NFL evidently does not look at or follow the law and evidently coaches think knocking your girlfriend senseless and dragging her out of an elevator is a MISTAKE. SMH!

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