Ray Rice answered questions in front of a swath of media at the Ravens practice facility in Owings Mills, Md. on Thursday.
— Jamison Hensley (@jamisonhensley) July 31, 2014
In his first time in front of a microphone since he and his wife made a public address months ago, Rice was quietly remorseful. His contrition was palpable, and he owned up to his actions (though never actually divulging exactly what happened that night in Atlantic City).
This presser was so much less about football, and for obvious reason. Essentially, Rice was standing in front of the jury of public opinion. There were questions that needed to be asked, and things that Rice had to address before he could ever begin to rehabilitate himself and his image. And rehabilitation was a central theme of Rice’s address.
In his talk, he mentioned the importance of rehabbing his role as a father, husband and role model. He talked about the effect his actions on that night, “his biggest mistake,” will have on his life moving forward. How his 2-year-old daughter will eventually come to Google her father’s name and he will have to go through this trial once more, in a much more personal courtroom.
Rice talked about how much the support has meant to him. How the fans’ ovation at M&T Bank Stadium made him feel, and how he vowed to, once finding peace with his wife and self, do everything in his power to help those affected by domestic violence.
And while he apologized immensely, he acknowledged the fact he’ll never truly move past the event.
“That’s not who I am as a man. That’s not who my mom raised me to be … I was raised by a single mother. I let her down, I let my wife down, I let my daughter down, I let my wife’s parents down. I let the community of Baltimore down. And I got my teammates here supporting me — I let my teammates down. I let so many people down because of 30 seconds I can’t take back.”
Behind all the reporters stood a constable of Ravens — Jacoby Jones, wearing a t-shirt that read, “ONE;” Steve Smith Sr.; Bernard Pierce, who was the first to greet Rice post-interview; Owen Daniels; and many others — all out showing their support for Rice.
In all, it was a necessary and honest moment for Rice, who had begun to shoulder more criticism for the way his incident was handled. Rice reinforced the process of the league office, and informed media that his intentions were never to appeal — no matter how long Roger Goodell suspended him. He wanted to own his actions and move forward.
At the end of the presser, what stood out most was the embrace and solidarity that Rice’s teammates offered. It was clear that the Ravens organization has collectively shouldered this burden, and no longer was it simply a personal matter for Rice. No matter how cheesy Kevin Byrne’s editorial to Ray Rice may have seemed, the Ravens players and coaches, very clearly, like Ray Rice.
If only one positive is to come of this situation, it could be the affect on the Ravens locker room. The team seems to have rallied around Rice in his time of tumult, and for a team that has undergone such transition in the past few years, some of the most visible supporters were players added this offseason. Steve Smith Sr. and Owen Daniels welcomed Rice back, and for all the noise happening outside of the locker room and playing field, perhaps there has grown a sense of strength inside those walls and hashmarks.
As Rice said, he will never fully move past this. It will be attached to his name for the rest of his life. This was, however, a crucial step towards his rehabilitation.