Baltimore Ravens running back Ray Rice addressed the media for the first time since the NFL suspended him for the first two games of the upcoming season after he violated the league’s personal conduct policy.
Rice was charged with aggravated assault stemming from an incident in an Atlantic City casino in February, during which he was caught on video dragging his then-fiancee, now-wife Janay Rice out of an elevator after he apparently struck her unconscious.
During the press conference, Ray Rice chose not elaborate on what exactly happened in the elevator, but offered an apology and appeared contrite.
"I made the biggest mistake of my life," said Rice."I want to own it.
"My actions that night were totally inexcusable. That's not who I am as a man."
Rice also said he didn't know how he would explain the situation to his daughter. He also made a veiled reference to whether or not his wife provoked the attack, a highly debated topic that ESPN commentator and reporter Stephen A. Smith addressed on his show “First Take” and subsequently received a week-long suspension from the network.
"My wife can do no wrong," he said. "She's an angel."
Rice plead not guilty to the charge in May and applied to enter into a program for first-time offenders. He is also required to attend regular counseling sessions.
Once the league handed down its disciplinary ruling last week, it was labeled as too lenient. Many players have been suspended far longer for violating the NFL’s substance abuse policy rather than any incident involving violence, most notably Cleveland Browns receiver Josh Gordon, who’s facing a season-long suspension for repeatedly testing positive for marijuana.
NFL senior vice president of labor policy Adolpho Birch was quoted saying the league did send a message with Rice’s suspension and that the league does not condone domestic violence in any way.
"Listen, I think if you are any player and you think that based on this decision that it's OK to go out and commit that kind of conduct, I think that is something that I would suggest to you that no player is going to go out and do that," Birch said during an ESPN radio interview last week. "So in terms of sending a message about what the league stands for, we've done that. We can talk about the degree of discipline, we can talk about whether or not third parties need to be involved. I would suggest to you that a third party has been involved in this matter and that was the court that reviewed it, the prosecutor that reviewed it.
"But if it is a question about what the principle of the league is and what standards we stand by, that cannot be questioned. I think it is absolutely clear to all involved that the NFL does not condone domestic violence in any way and will not tolerate it in our league. I don't know how you can reach a conclusion other than that although I certainly respect the opinion."
Part of Rice’s press conference is below, as well as the security footage from the incident.