Surrounded by his wife, about 30 of his teammates and about 15 television cameras, Ravens running back Ray Rice repeatedly apologized for actions that led to his February arrest and vowed to speak out against domestic violence when the time is right.
"My sincerest apologies go out to anybody who has been through anything that I've been through. Those are who my apologies go out to - anybody who has been through any kind of domestic violence," Rice said. "It has no place in society, in this work, especially man on women. I have to own my actions and I have to live with them for the rest of my life."
Thursday's news conference after practice at the team facility marked the first time Rice publicly answered questions from the media since he was accused of striking his now-wife Janay unconscious during a physical altercation in the elevator of an Atlantic City, N.J., casino in February.
Janay watched from a balcony overlooking the area where Rice spoke for a little over 17 minutes. He apologized to his wife and daughter after failing to do so in his widely-criticized news conference in May. He said the incident of domestic violence was a "one-time incident" that he has to deal with for the rest of his life.
"I'm here today to tell you that I made the biggest mistake of my life. Me," Rice said. "My wife, she can do no wrong. She's an angel. We're in counseling. We've taken the necessary steps to move forward, and I say I'm in counseling because counseling is not one of the things you go to and things just automatically get better. What counseling has done for me is allow me to interact with my inner self, to let me know where I was . Scoring touchdowns and doing what I do as an NFL player, it's a very big job but it's very small in terms of being a parent and being a fulfilled husband."
Rice, 27, was charged with felony aggravated assault following the incident. He was accepted into a diversionary program that allowed him to avoid jail time and potentially get the charge expunged from his record.
Because he is still in a probationary period, Rice declined to give specific details of the case.
"The incident itself, I'm trying to move forward," Rice said. "What happened that night is a huge mistake on my behalf. I take full responsibility.
"I'll be honest, like I said I own my actions. I just don't want to keep reliving the incident because the incident itself. . I'm trying to move on. Every time I have to keep reliving it, it doesn't bring any good to me. What happened that night was a huge mistake on my part, and that's what I'll keep it at."
It was a week ago when Rice learned that he was suspended for two games without pay and fined an additional game check for violating the NFL's personal conduct policy. The lost wages added up to approximately $529,000. NFL commissioner Roger Goodell, who handed down the ruling after meeting with Rice and his wife, has gotten widespread criticism for what most perceive as a much-too-soft punishment.
"I don't have any control over what punishment was," Rice said. "I'm being punished on a daily basis."
The three-time Pro Bowl running back will miss regular-season games against the Cincinnati Bengals and Pittsburgh Steelers. He originally addressed the media about his arrest in May. However, his actions in the news conference were highly criticized as Rice read notes from his phone, made an unfortunate analogy about being knocked down and getting back up and also didn't offer a public apology to his wife, Janay.
His news conference Thursday was attended by numerous national outlets, including CNN, CBS and ESPN.
"When the time is right, and I say that because you've got to fix yourself before you can go out there and help others, when the time is right, me and my wife, we want to go out there and help people with violence of any kind, especially man on woman," Rice said. "It's just not right. It's not right, shouldn't be tolerated. It's not right for society, no matter what. That's something I stand by and I have to pay for that. But me and my wife, when the time is right, we will go out there and help as many people as we can, to go out there and speak out against domestic violence because it's . just totally inexcusable."
Sandi Timmins, executive director of House of Ruth Maryland, said in a statement that she hopes Rice will "take an active stand" against domestic violence.
"The unfortunate incident with the Baltimore Ravens' Ray Rice has generated tremendous conversation about the issue of intimate partner violence" Timmins said in the statement. "We appreciate that Mr. Rice apologized to his wife and to all victims of Intimate Partner Violence and is taking the best steps to create a healthy relationship in his family.
"We hope that Mr. Rice will now take an active stand in the work that is being done to end intimate partner violence. He is in a unique position to use his influence to let men know that this kind of behavior is unacceptable and that it is not acceptable to be a bully in a relationship."
2014 The Baltimore Sun
Visit The Baltimore Sun at http://www.baltimoresun.com
Distributed by MCT Information Services