Baltimore Ravens running back Ray Rice will avoid jail time for his role in an incident in which he allegedly hit his wife Janay, but his image, which was sullied badly by the ugly video of the incident, took another hit on Friday.
There is surveillance video from an Atlantic City casino in February showing Rice dragging his then-fiancée Janay Palmer's seemingly unconscious body out of an elevator after he allegedly hit her. The running back was charged with third-degree aggravated assault, and he pleaded not guilty to that count and will enter a pre-trial intervention program for first-time offenders. Rice will avoid jail time because of the program, but he might have to sit out some games if the NFL suspends him.
Rice spoke to the media Friday with a prepared statement — answering no questions — with Palmer by his side. The timing of this event, on a Friday afternoon before a holiday weekend, was likely no coincidence.
Ray Rice's family and daughter are seated in the front row of the press conference.— Baltimore Ravens (@Ravens) May 23, 2014
At this point, things had yet to go badly. It would be a good sign that the woman he allegedly hit was directly by his side and that the rest of his family was showing close support.
"I had many nights and many days and a lot of time to reflect on a lot of things," Rice said, according to the Ravens' transcript.
"I want to first off apologize to [owner] Steve Bisciotti, [general manager and executive vice president] Ozzie Newsome and [head] coach [John] Harbaugh, and I also want to apologize to my fans, to the kids, to everyone who was affected by this situation that me and my wife were in," Rice said.
And ... Palmer? Palmer was involved. They're married now. You might not want to sweep her up in the "everyone else" category.
"One thing I can say is that sometimes in life, you will fail," Rice said. "But I won’t call myself a failure. Failure is not getting knocked down; it’s not getting up."
This is a prepared statement. Someone wrote it. Either Rice or the worst PR person in the country. He used a metaphor about being knocked down in a press conference apologizing for an incident in which he allegedly knocked his wife unconscious. Worst possible choice of words? Confirmed.
That's Part A. Part B is that he was mostly talking about it in the context of his career, and not in terms of the victim sitting a foot away.
"I’m still the same guy," Rice said "As me and Janay wish we could take back 30 seconds of our life ... "
Temporary insanity defense.
"I'm still the same Ray Rice that you know, or used to know, or have grown to love," he said.
The one we know has now made himself look far worse than he did coming into this fiasco. So poorly handled.
"I do deeply regret the role that I played in the incident that night," Janay Rice said.
If the whole thing hadn't felt so scripted and disingenuous, this part might not have rankled me so much. But Janay Rice probably hurt her husband's image more with this statement, even if she believes it and was not put up to saying it by anyone. Look, she married the guy, they're getting counseling, and we hope everyone turns out for the best. But the victim here is blaming herself, and you just can't help with the timing of the event, the way it unfolded and the public statement reading (why did media even need to show up?) that it felt hollow.
What did this accomplish? Are people feeling better about Rice now? I'd be shocked if that was the case, and judging by the immediate response on social media, the answer is a resounding no.
The facts of the case do show that Rice is a first-time offender who had never stepped afoul of the law previously. Team officials have disapproved of his actions but have stood by him for the most part. By all indications, he's trying to better himself and show that he deserves to be trusted. But his handling of the matter Friday was pretty poor.
And the guess here is that his statement will have no effect whatsoever on whatever punishment Roger Goodell eventually hands down.
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