The Ravens' fifth-year back signed a five-year contract this off-season and bought himself a real house. He's also building an impressive career with 4,901 rushing yards.
DAN PATRICK:When's the last time you were late for practice?
RAY RICE: When I was a child. My mom wouldn't let me go to practice without finishing my homework first.
DP:What does coach John Harbaugh do if you're late?
RR: We have a little system called Make It Right. I'd have to pay the fine. [But] I'm actually early to practice.
DP:Have you talked to [injured Ravens linebacker] Ray Lewis recently?
RR: We've been texting each other. The best part of the situation is that he's in good spirits. Knowing the person he is, I'm looking forward to seeing him later this year.
DP:Do you think Lewis will be back by the playoffs?
RR: Yes. You have to know the person. I know Ray. I know how hard he's going to work. He always feels he has to [go to] war with us.
DP:Do you realize how special it is that you can tell your grandkids you played with first-ballot Hall of Famers like Lewis and [safety] Ed Reed.
RR: Yes. Not only have I played with them, but I'm pretty good friends with them as well.
DP:Have you ever asked Ray for an autograph?
RR: I haven't, but I have teased Ray that I don't have [his] jersey in my basement. I need it in my shrine. [That's] the only way people will believe me when I'm done [playing] the game.
DP:Who's in the shrine right now?
RR: Right now, me.
RR: I just [bought] a house. I was in a town house before. Now we're talking about a real home. My basement is still having some work done to it.
DP:Have you asked any of your opponents for an autograph?
RR: Me and [Chiefs running back] Jamaal Charles exchanged jerseys after our game. I'm going to put it in my basement.
DP:You played against [the Texans'] Arian Foster too. What do you learn from watching a back like that?
RR: I always study other backs. His patience is at another level. He takes the yards that are there. I'm sure he'll tell you he's looking at a few things I do well.
DP:What skills would you want to borrow from other running backs?
RR: I'd take Foster's patience. I'd take [the Jaguars'] Maurice Jones-Drew's power. He's short, but he's very powerful. I'd take [the Titans'] Chris Johnson's speed. I'll keep my hands.
DP:You have almost 5,000 rushing yards in your career. Could you approach Emmitt Smith's record of 18,355?
RR: That's a long way to go. [That's] one of those records that is probably going to be there for awhile.
DP:Were you a Cowboys fan as a kid?
RR: I was an Emmitt Smith fan. I grew up a 49ers fan. I thought me and Jerry Rice were family.
DP:Did you tell people you were related?
RR: Yup. I had no shame. They asked me [to prove it with] an autograph or something. I said, He can't, he's playing football right now.
"When you go up to that podium [after a loss] you have to have a stoic look, [like] everything is going to be O.K. That's a maturity thing he's going to have to get over. As far as his play, I don't see where he's on the way down all of a sudden. I just don't understand that."
—WARREN MOON, Hall of Famer, on criticism of Panthers QB Cam Newton
Angels outfielder Mike Trout doesn't see living with his parents during the off-season as a negative. "No curfew," Trout said. "I live in the basement. I got everything I need. Home cooking ... it's awesome." ... MLB Network analyst Mitch Williams is a supporter of Ozzie Guillen, but he understands why so many people have an issue with the recently fired Marlins manager. "I've known Ozzie since I was 17 and he was 18," Williams told me. "Whatever is in his brain is coming out. You either love him or hate him." ... I asked former NFL coach and current Fox analyst Brian Billick if a team would accept an openly gay player. "I wish I could be more optimistic," Billick said. "On a certain level it would be a difficult locker room to deal with." ... Doug Flutie revealed that his Hail Mary against Miami in 1984 didn't exactly go by design. Flutie said that he had sent his tight end on a route he thought could lead to a TD but didn't have time to find him: "He was wide open at about the 15 going down the left side. If I had put my foot in the ground and drilled it, he might have gotten there."
MICHAEL J. LEBRECHT II/1DEUCE3 PHOTOGRAPHY (PATRICK)
MIKE BUSCHER/CAL SPORT MEDIA (RICE)
PAUL DRINKWATER/NBC/NBCU PHOTO BANK/GETTY IMAGES (FLUTIE)
KIRBY LEE/IMAGE OF SPORT/US PRESSWIRE (BILLICK)
COURTESY OF MLB NETWORK (WILLIAMS)
ROBERT BECK (TROUT)