For the first time since his reinstatement into the NFLlast week, former Baltimore Ravens running back Ray Rice spoke at length regarding the domestic abuse case involving his wife on NBC’s Today.
NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell suspended Rice indefinitely the Ravens released him after video that showed him punching his wife (then his fiancee), Janay, at an Atlantic City casino surfaced in September.
An arbitrator recently overturned the suspension on the grounds that Goodell punished Rice for the same act twice by amending an initial two-game ban.
One day after Matt Lauer interviewed Janay, Ray Rice was the subject of Tuesday’s interview while flanked by his wife and her parents.
The 27-year-old free agent wanted to make it clear that he had no interest in deflecting blame for what happened that night, according to Today’s official Twitter account:
“I take full responsibility for my actions.” -Ray Rice tells @MLauer.
Rice has been under fire for several missteps in connection with this controversy. Both he and his wife were roundly criticized for how they handled a press conference in May. Janay was the one who apologized, and Ray now regrets that:
“I made a horrendous mistake not apologizing to my wife.” -Ray Rice speaks to @MLauerabout press conference.
Now that Rice is free to sign with any NFL team, the conversation has shifted toward his prospects as a football player. Rice is a four-time 1,000-yard rusher and was once one of the best running backs in the league, but it is unclear if anyone is willing to roll the dice on him with his off-field issues.
The running back realizes there isn’t much he can do other than wait for a team to show interest:
“I took full responsibility for everything that I did. And only thing I can hope for & wish for is a second chance.” -Ray Rice
With that said, Rice doesn’t appear naive enough to assume that a team signing him is guaranteed. His play had slipped significantly even before the domestic abuse that led to his suspension and release.
He averaged just over three yards per carry in 2013 and looked like a shell of the running back who made three Pro Bowls.
Per Today, Rice is prepared to provide for his wife and his family even if his NFL career has reached its conclusion:
“If I never play football again… I would adapt into life & I would sacrifice more so she can have a better future.” -Ray Rice to @MLauer.