Baltimore Ravens running back Ray Rice addressed the media Thursday for the first time since being suspended for two games due to an offseason assault of his then-fiancee (current wife) at an Atlantic City casino.
The NFL has been widely criticized for being too lenient in its punishment of Rice. While Rice ultimately had no control over the length of the suspension, he answered plenty of questions about the situation as a whole following team practice.
Rice came across as extremely apologetic throughout the press conference and started by labeling his actions as "inexcusable," according to NFL on ESPN:
"That night, that's not me, my actions were inexcusable and that's something I'll have to live with the rest of my life." Ray Rice #LIVEonSC— NFL on ESPN (@ESPNNFL) July 31, 2014
He also took full responsibility for what happened and didn't attempt to pass the buck at any point, per ESPN.com's Jamison Hensley:
Ray Rice says he made a huge mistake and "wants to own it"— Jamison Hensley (@jamisonhensley) July 31, 2014
In addition, Rice made it clear that he is aware of how the situation has negatively impacted the Ravens organization and those around him, according to Charlie Kaye of CBS News:
More Ray Rice: "I let the whole Baltimore community down...I let my teammates down..."— Charlie Kaye (@CharlieKayeCBS) July 31, 2014
All eyes were on Rice as fans and media members alike wanted to see how he would handle himself. Perhaps he was able to gain some strength from the fact that his teammates looked on to show their support, per NFL Network's Albert Breer:
Ray Rice's teammates are standing behind the media at his press conference, in a show of solidarity. pic.twitter.com/Gn4hjDfVwN— Albert Breer (@AlbertBreer) July 31, 2014
NFL Around the League noted that Rice knew he had let people down:
Rice: “I let so many people down. … I needed help. I’m not afraid to ask for help.”— NFL: AroundTheLeague (@NFL_ATL) July 31, 2014
Although much of the criticism aimed at Rice has related to the assault incident itself, he also caught plenty of flak for not apologizing to his wife when the couple initially addressed the media in May.
Rice aimed to rectify that situation Thursday and offered what seemed to be a sincere apology, per Will Brinson of CBS Sports:
"Her pain is my pain. My pain is her pain." Ray Rice says before apologizing to his wife.— Will Brinson (@WillBrinson) July 31, 2014
While Rice primarily apologized to his wife, he took things a step further. He mentioned on several occasions that he and his wife intend to help and support those who have experienced domestic violence in the past.
He then apologized to anyone who has been impacted by domestic violence, although MSNBC's Jamil Smith believes Rice should have spoken out about that long ago:
Good that Ray Rice apologized not just to his wife, but any woman who is a survivor of domestic violence. Should've happened 4 months ago.— Jamil Smith (@JamilSmith) July 31, 2014
Perhaps the most profound and heartfelt moment came when Rice mentioned his daughter. He talked about the fact that his daughter will one day be able to Google his name and see information regarding the assault.
Rice mentioned how difficult it will be for him to explain his actions to his daughter when that time comes, according to Mike Doocy of Fox 4 Sports in Fort Worth, Texas:
Ray Rice says he lives with the "pain of having to explain that (videotape) to my daughter. " Can't control what the NFL punishment is.— Mike Doocy (@MikeDoocyFox4) July 31, 2014
Rice continually declined to specifically address exactly what happened the night of the assault and claimed that he needed to move forward rather than look to the past.
It is difficult to say with certainty whether or not someone is being sincere, but Rice definitely came across that way. He appeared both remorseful and embarrassed about his actions. There was nothing that Rice could have said to change what he did that night, but he seemingly did the best he could to express his regret.
Now that Rice has spoken out and the league has made its decision, the healing process can begin, and he can take steps toward earning back the respect of fans everywhere.
Rice is eligible to take the field for the Ravens in their third regular-season game on Sept. 21 against the Browns in Cleveland.
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