NFL Notes: Ray Rice Says He'll Donate Salary to Domestic Violence Programs If Signed

Ray Rice wants a second chance in the NFL, and if he’s granted that chance, he plans to make a statement along with it.

Rice, 29, told USA Today Wednesday he would donate his entire 2016 salary to domestic violence programs if an NFL team signs him.

Rice plans to donate his earnings to organizations aiming to educate on the prevention of domestic violence as well as provide support for victims and their families.

“Me donating my salary is something that’ll be from the heart for me,” Rice told USA Today. “I only want to play football so I can end it the right way for my kids and for the people that really believed in me. But I know there’s a lot of people affected by domestic violence, and every dollar helps. It’s raising awareness.”

Rice was cut by the Ravens in September 2014 after video surfaced of him hitting his then-fiancee on an elevator. Prior to that, Rice spent all six of his NFL seasons with Baltimore, scoring 37 TDs on 6,180 yards rushing.

On top of the former running back’s pledge, Rice’s representatives have reached out to teams informing them of their client’s hopes for a return to the NFL and his promise to donate his earnings if signed.

“I think the biggest donation that you can give to domestic violence is your time,” Rice said. “I’m not just going to be giving it because I have money. I’m going to be giving it because I did the background and the research and spent a lot of time with people who understand the cause.”

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As a seven-year veteran, a league-minimum salary for Rice would be $885,000, according to the article.

No teams have expressed interest in signing Rice, but there is hope for the three-time Pro Bowl selection. In March of 2015, the Cowboys signed defensive end Greg Hardy to a one-year, $11.3 million contract after Hardy had been involved in a domestic violence incident of his own.

Rice last played in an NFL game on Dec. 29, 2013.

— Michael Marcantonini, Contributor

NFL: New legal team granted for former star TE Hernandez
PLYMOUTH, Mass. -- Former New England Patriots star Aaron Hernandez has a new legal team to defend him in the 2012 slayings of two men outside a Boston nightclub.

A judge Thursday allowed Hernandez's previous attorneys to withdraw and transfer the case to new attorneys. His new team includes Florida attorney Jose Baez, who successfully defended Casey Anthony in her 2011 trial in the death of her daughter.

Hernandez already is serving a life sentence in the 2013 killing of semi-pro football player Odin Lloyd. He also is accused of gunning down Daniel de Abreu and Safiro Furtado after one of the men accidentally spilled a drink on him. He has pleaded not guilty.

He was indicted in Suffolk County, but the hearing was in Plymouth County, where Judge Jeffrey Locke is assigned.

-- The Associated Press

Steelers: Tight end Matt Spaeth released
PITTSBURGH -- The Pittsburgh Steelers released tight end Matt Spaeth on Thursday after the veteran tight end failed a physical.

The 32-year-old is recovering from offseason knee surgery and did not recover in time to be ready for training camp, which opens next week. Spaeth spent seven of his nine seasons in the NFL with the Steelers, who selected him in the third round of the 2007 draft.

Utilized mostly as a blocking tight end and backup to Heath Miller, Spaeth has 55 receptions for 420 yards and 10 touchdowns in his career and helped the Steelers to the 2009 Super Bowl.

The Steelers have plenty of options at tight end even with Miller's retirement and Spaeth's departure. Pittsburgh signed Ladarius Green as a free agent in March and second-year tight end Jesse James improved steadily during his rookie season.

-- The Associated Press

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