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Thousands of fans lined up outside the Ravens’ home stadium Friday to trade in their Ray Rice jerseys for those of other Baltimore players.
The team set up the two-day program after recently releasing Rice, who in an explicit video that surfaced last week was shown viciously punching his then-fiancee in an Atlantic City casino elevator. He has been suspended indefinitely by the NFL for domestic violence.
An estimated 5,000 fans are expected to show up before the event ends Saturday.
Bryce Krasauskis, a freshman at Oakdale High School in Frederick, Maryland, took the hourlong drive with his family to trade in his No. 27 jersey.
The 14-year-old came away with a black Elvis Dumervil jersey. He was delighted to be rid of the Rice garb after the incident involving the former Ravens running back over the past two weeks.
“I didn’t want to have my Ray Rice jersey in my closet anymore,” Krasauskis said. “I felt like it would leave a bad image on me if I wore it around anymore.”
Fans brought in jerseys from 8 a.m. until 3 p.m. and can do the same on Saturday.
“We certainly had a steady flow throughout the entire day,” team spokesman Patrick Gleason said.
Several fans showed up hours before the gates opened, and many were in place at the start. During the exchange, the line snaked at least halfway around the building, with a waiting time of at least one hour.
Even just before the 3 p.m. cutoff point a long line remained. The Ravens offered jerseys of players such as Joe Flacco, Terrell Suggs, Dumervil, Dennis Pitta, Torrey Smith and Haloti Ngata. As supplies became limited later in the day, fans were given vouchers that they could bring back for a jersey on Oct. 25.
Fans came from all over the area to exchange.
Stuart Zolotorow lives in Owings Mills, Maryland, and wanted to turn in the jersey for his daughter, a college student who had been a big Rice fan.
“We talked about it, and she just was afraid to come to games wearing it,” he said while waiting in line. “She feels the NFL messed up the whole thing. She doesn’t think he was treated fairly but didn’t like what he did.”
Once revered in Baltimore, Rice no longer has the support of the fans.
“I didn’t really accept Ray Rice anymore,” Krasauskis said. “I really don’t want to see any evidence that I ever supported him.”
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