Baltimore Ravens Coach John Harbaugh promised that, when Ray Rice met with reporters Thursday, “Ray’s going to speak from the heart.”
The running back, who has been a secondary focus of criticism since he was suspended for two games by Commissioner Roger Goodell, called the domestic violence incident involving his now-wife “the biggest mistake of my life” during a press conference at the team’s Owings Mills, Md., training camp. Rice apologized, spoke of the day his young daughter sees video of the incident and repeatedly said he owned his actions. He refused to detail the incident, instead focusing on being a “better husband, a better father, a better role model” as his wife, Janay, looked on from the team’s main building and his teammates watched. Rice, making his first comments since his suspension, opened by reading a statement, then took questions from reporters.
(Note: this is a rough transcript.)
“It’s inexcusable,” he said. “The pain that I’m talking about living with, my little girl, she’s 2 now, one day she’s going to … know the power of Google and she’ll see that. That’s not who I am as a man. I was raised by a single mother. I let her down, I let my wife down, I let my daughter down, I let the community of Baltimore down, I let my teammates down. I let everybody down. I’m man [enough] to say I needed help.
“Last time [in a May press conference], I didn’t publicly apologize to my wife. I realize that hit home with a lot of people. One thing I wanted to do today is apologize to my wife, who I’ve known since high school. She’s a great woman, a great mother, a great wife.”
Rice, saying “I made the biggest mistake of my life,” promised that “when the time is right” he and his wife would become active in raising awareness about domestic violence.
“I own my actions,” he said in response to a question about what happened that night in February. “I don’t want to keep reliving the incident. Every time I have to keep reliving it doesn’t bring any good to me. What happened that night was a huge mistake on my behalf. … What happened that night was something that never should have happened. … My daughter is very intelligent and she’s going to want to know what happened. She’s going to press Google one day and… the first thing that’s going to come up is that incident, not how many touchdowns I scored.”
Rice’s remarks were a departure from an off-key press conference in May in which, with Janay next to him, he discussed the incident and she said she regretted her role in the incident.
Rice was suspended because of the incident, caught on video and circulated by TMZ, in which he knocked Janay out and dragged her from the elevator of an Atlantic City casino. Rice was arrested, entered a not guilty plea, and entered a diversion program in which he will undergo counseling. The length of the suspension, compared with others handed down by Goodell, caused a firestorm of debate.
“My actions that night were totally inexcusable,” he said. “That’s not me. That’s something I have to live with the rest of my life.”
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