Ravens’ Rice will grow to appreciate Lambeau

Baltimore running back Ray Rice is one of the best young players in the National Football League.

But that’s just it—he is young. And last night after the Ravens 27-14 loss at Lambeau Field, he showed his inexperience during his postgame rant on the town of Green Bay, WI and Lambeau Field.

Rice—who didn’t have his best performance of the year by any measures—told Drew Olson of OnMilwaukee.com, “To be honest with you, it was just Lambeau Field. They put us out in the middle of nowhere and it’s not a real exciting place.”

Rice then added, “Everything about this place is terrible.”

Not surprising coming from a second-year player who had a rough night. In the NFL, you can always judge the maturity level of the players by how they react to a poor performance. It is easy to stand in front of a microphone after you fill up the box score during a win. On the other hand, when you put the ball on the ground and don’t have the type of impact that Rice thought he would in front of a national audience, this is what will happen.

And, it is best just to keep quiet or act accordingly when it comes to the media in that situation. Hey, it happens—just as we saw from the Packers locker room after the second of two losses to the Vikings this year. Anything you say will be used against you.

But, Rice will learn, as do all players when it comes to Lambeau Field, the city of Green Bay and the fans that show up on Sundays—every Sunday. I was privileged—no, honored—to play for just a short time as a Packer in Lambeau. It is a cathedral of sorts when it comes to pro football, just as the old Yankee Stadium was, and just as Madison Square Garden is for the NBA.

Yes, I am a tradition guy, and I like the history of the league, just as I like it when the Big Ten plays the Pac-10 in the Rose Bowl on New Year’s Day. For some guys, it takes time to adjust to playing football in Green Bay. It is a small town, and yes, it doesn’t have the nightlife of a Miami or a New York City. But, then again, neither does the city of Baltimore or the campus of Rutgers University to be honest.

No, Green Bay is a football and beer town, but along with that comes the tradition of Lambeau Field. Reggie White saw that when he came to town as a free agent, just as Charles Woodson did. They name streets after coaches, and when you play on Sundays you are the center of attention, the major attraction in town and Lambeau is the only place to be.

Ray Rice will understand that one day when he gets older, matures as a professional athlete and thinks of the times that he did get to carry the football in the same place that some of the all-time greats did in the NFL.

It is sacred ground up there, but Rice doesn’t get that yet because he hasn’t been around long enough to see what makes the NFL what it is, where places like Lambeau are cherished compared with the monstrosities we see in today’s modern stadiums—such as Jerry Jones’ amusement park in Dallas, where the football is the last thing on people’s minds.

Update: Ray Rice, via his Twitter account, @RayRice27, posted "As a man I would like to apolgize the fans of green bay you can't judge a book by it's cover and for me to talk about your city was wrong."

Follow me on Twitter: MattBowen41

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