BALTIMORE (AP) — Music blared from the purple bus, and Baltimore Ravens fan Racquel Bailey stood with drink in hand amid her usual tailgate buddies while making a bold fashion statement: a black, rhinestone-decorated jersey with the white No. 27.
A Ray Rice jersey.
"There's two sides to every story," said the 23-year-old waitress from Baltimore. "I saw the video. That's their personal business, and it shouldn't have affected his career. I don't agree with domestic violence, but she's still with him, so obviously it wasn't that big of a deal. Everyone should just drop it."
Ravens fans male and female, young and old, arrived for Thursday night's game against the Pittsburgh Steelers debating the events that have affected their team over the last few days. Their once beloved running back has been kicked off the team and banned by the NFL after a video surfaced that showed him punching his then-fiancee — and now wife — inside an Atlantic City hotel elevator.
All condemned Rice's actions, but there was little consensus as to what his punishment should be. The NFL did the right thing by suspending him, some said, but the Ravens shouldn't have terminated his contract as well. Or maybe the suspension should have remained at two games, where it stood before the punch video became public.
Meanwhile, those who wore Rice jerseys were getting heckles and high-fives.
"You support a wife-beater!" one female fan yelled at male fan wearing a No. 27 about 90 minutes before kickoff.