I've listened to Ritner discuss this subject near the end of his life. The man was already a tenured full professor at Chicago and had also been at that level at Yale. I heard nothing that indicated to me Dr. Ritner was worried in the least that his responses to the Book of Abraham controversy would have any bearing, whatsoever, on his distinguished career and reputation. He only got into the discussion because his name and research were being used improperly, in his opinion, by Gee. It appears to me that Gee and Muhlstein are so far out on the fringes of their discipline that they are left grasping for straws of the merest possibility when Ritner's conclusions are not only far more plausible, but also well within the mainstream understanding of the Egyptology community. Dr. Ritner was quite plain in his statements that he has no problem with members of the church believing in the divinity of the words that are published as the Book of Abraham. However, to the extent the church (and Gee and Muhlstein) attempts to bolster that belief using the scrolls purchased by Joseph Smith as evidence of that divinity, he was quite straightforward in statements that the scrolls do not, in fact, provide support for such a claim.
In my opinion, continuing to try to defend the facsimiles as support for the Book of Abraham narrative simply no longer works. Nibley's own work on this in 1967 laid the foundation for the church's opportunity to treat the Book of Abraham the same way they have the Book of Mormon; namely, as straight revelation. Given what we know about Joseph Smith's non-use of the plates to generate the Book of Mormon, the Book of Abraham could simply have been transitioned into a similar enough narrative to avoid this ongoing debate 40 years later.
I, for one, am very uncomfortable with the notion that Dr. Ritner '[had] other things to protect" when his own statements on this subject showed no evidence of such concerns. Moreover, the fact that this is being said in a thread about his recent passing makes me even more uncomfortable that apologists may be using his death to get the last word, so to speak. I do hope I am wrong about your intent in saying those things.