OWINGS MILLS, Md. — A contrite Ray Rice apologized publicly to his wife, his 2-year-old daughter, his mother and children wearing No. 27 Baltimore Ravens jerseys in his first public comments since the NFL suspended him two games for a domestic violence incident in February.
“My actions that night were totally inexcusable,” Rice said. “That night, I just replay over and over in my head. That’s not me. My actions are inexcusable. That’s something I have to live with the rest of my life. The pain I’m talking about every day is, my daughter is two years old now. One day she’s going to know the power of Google.”
Rice said the most difficult punishment he’ll deal with is knowing daughter, Rayven, will first hear not of his football achievements, but what happened with his then-fiancee Jenay Palmer at an Atlantic City casino. Video captured the incident during which Rice appeared to knock Palmer out with a closed fist, then dragged her out of an elevator.
“That’s not me. That’s not who my mom raised me to be. … I let her down, I let my wife down, I let my daughter down,” Rice said. “I let my wife’s parents down. I let the Baltimore community down. I’ve got my teammates here supporting me. I let my teammates down. … all because of 30 seconds.”
Rice said the impact of the suspension will be felt, but living with the pain of addressing admirers and family, including his in-laws that could be everlasting.
“I have to own that — it’s my fault,” Rice said. “My daily battle each day, I own that. I’m going to do whatever I can to earn that respect back. I’m being punished on a day-to-day basis.”
Palmer was by Rice’s side last month when he first addressed reporters with a prepared statement and attended Thursday’s interview session. He dodged multiple questions seeking details of the night in question.
“Last time, I didn’t publicly apologize to my wife. I know that hit home with a lot of people,” he said. “That’s one of the things I wanted to do today. I’ve known her since high school. She’s the same person now she was back then. She can do no wrong.”
Rice said becoming consistently great — as a teammate, husband, father and role model — is now his daily focus. Being back on the football field, Rice said, is his safe haven.
“I made the biggest mistake of my life,” Rice said. “We’re in counseling. We’re taking the necessary steps to move forward. … What counseling has done for me is to interact with my inner self. Let me know where my weaknesses are.”
Rice said he had nothing to impress on the NFL or commissioner Roger Goodell. He thanked his wife for support, and said they have nothing to gain to impress the league before punishment was handed down. The couple
“My job is to lead my family,” Rice said.
Because family time is cut in half during football season, Rice said the overwhelming support of “brothers and friends” in the locker room is keeping him going.
Rice said the incident in Atlantic City was a one-time incident and he has never experienced domestic violence.
“I own my actions,” Rice said. “I don’t condone anything that was done. This was a very touchy situation, is a very touchy situation for many people in the world. When I’m better, I will go out there and help people.”
Helping people and being an ambassador for domestic violence prevention will be prominent in Rice’s life this year and beyond, he said.
“That’s who I’m going to be as a person,” Rice said. “That’s who I’m going to be as a man.”