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In wide-ranging "Today" interview, Janay Rice says Ravens suggested she apologize at May news conference

NBC's Matt Lauer speaks with Janay Rice and her mother Candy Palmer.
NBC's Matt Lauer speaks with Janay Rice and her mother Candy Palmer. (Photo courtesy of "Today" show)

In a wide-ranging interview Monday on NBC's "Today" show with Matt Lauer, Janay Rice said the Ravens suggested that she apologize for her role in a domestic-violence incident alongside her husband, Ray, during a May news conference.

"I apologized for the part that I took in this," Janay Rice said in the interview, explaining the widely criticized news conference at the team facility. "And I apologized because, for one, this press conference was something Ray and I put together. I was ready to do anything that was going to help the situation, both help the way we looked in the media, help his image, help, obviously, his career."

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A second segment of the "Today" interview, with Ray Rice, the former Ravens running back who was reinstated to the NFL last week, will air Tuesday morning.

During the interview, Janay Rice said the Ravens didn't ask her directly to apologize for her part in the Atlantic City, N.J., casino incident, but that they suggested it. Ravens team officials declined to comment on Janay Rice's remarks.

"They suggested it, yes," she said, adding that the Ravens did not provide her with the exact wording of the apology. "No, not specifically. They basically gave us a general script."

Ravens coach John Harbaugh commented generally Monday during his weekly news conference when asked whether he thought Ray Rice would get a second chance with another NFL team.

"I can't speak for any other team," Harbaugh said. "I don't know how that will play out. Ray and Janay are very good friends of ours as a family, and we wish them nothing but the best professionally and nothing but the best, family-wise. I'm sure things will work out well for them because they're good people."

In February, Janay Palmer, then Rice's fiancee, was arrested along with Ray Rice for simple assault-domestic violence after a physical altercation at Revel Casino Hotel. Prosecutors later dismissed charges against Janay and upgraded charges against Ray Rice to felony aggravated assault. Ray Rice avoided jail time when he was accepted into a pretrial intervention program.

During the May news conference, Janay Rice said: "I do deeply regret the role that I played in the incident that night, but I can say that I am happy that we continue to work through it together, and we are continuing to strengthen our relationship and our marriage and do what we have to do for not only ourselves collectively, but individually, and working on being better parents for Rayven and continue to be good role models for the community like we were doing before this. I love Ray, and I know that he will continue to prove himself to not only you all, but [to] the community, and I know he will gain your respect back in due time. So thank you."

After her apology, the Ravens' official Twitter account wrote: "Janay Rice says she deeply regrets the role that she played the night of the incident." The tweet was later deleted.

"I was basically not doing what I was told, but I didn't think it was completely wrong for me to apologize because, at the end of the day, I got arrested, too," Janay Rice said. "I did something wrong, too. Not taking any light off of what Ray did, because I agree with everybody else, [but] it was wrong."

When asked about the negative reaction to the news conference, Janay Rice said: "I completely understood, yes. I completely understood it, which was frustrating. The whole thing was awkward."

After the news conference, Ray Rice was criticized for having to refer to notes on his Blackberry and not for apologizing publicly to his wife, even as he did so to the Ravens and many others.

"In our mind, it's obvious that he apologized to me more than once, countless amount of times," Janay Rice said. "I'm sitting there next to him. I wouldn't be sitting there next to him if I wasn't the first person that got an apology. There's no way, but the whole thing was awkward. We were just doing what we had to do get it over and done with."

Janay Rice said the couple was "terrified" after the incident, not knowing how the legal process would unfold.

"Honestly, our biggest thing was the legal process that went along with it," Janay Rice said. "We were both terrified. We didn't know what to expect. That was really the hardest part in the beginning."

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Janay Rice said she is glad that the incident has brought awareness to the issue of domestic violence.

Candy Palmer, Janay's mother, insisted that this would be the couple's last such incident.

"This is not the type of relationship she's in," Palmer said. "There is no next time. I didn't raise a young lady to be an abused woman."

Added Janay Rice: "I wouldn't allow anybody to disrespect me, especially a man who's in a relationship with me."

The interview also discussed how Ray Rice didn't comfort his wife after knocking her out. He instead dragged her out of the casino elevator.

"I was very upset by that part, and I told him so," Candy Palmer said. "I basically told him that I didn't care who was out there at the elevator. You should have never left her there like that; I did tell him that."

Added Janay Rice: "I asked him after I saw it: 'Why did you just leave me there like that?' He said he was terrified He was in such shock that this had just happened that he didn't know how to function at that point. Obviously, by that time, hotel security is there, police are there."

Janay Rice also explained the message she posted on Instagram expressing her anger over the Ravens' terminating Rice's $35 million contract after the release of the second TMZ video, which showed her being knocked out.

While breaking into tears, Janay Rice said: "I was hurt. It made me angry. The support system I thought we had with the Ravens, that made me angry. We have to pick up and move our child. It hurt a lot. I had to get it off of my chest."

Janay Rice said the couple plans to eventually tell their young daughter, Rayven, what happened.

"I don't think I'll ever be prepared until that moment," she said. "We're going to be honest with her. We're going to tell her people make mistakes. It's how you learn from them.

awilson@baltsun.com

twitter.com/RavensInsider

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