Ray Rice became emotional inside a Hunt Valley hotel room while reflecting on the most turbulent year of his life.
One year removed from punching and knocking out his now-wife, Janay, on Valentine’s Day inside an Atlantic City, N.J., casino elevator, the former Ravens running back told The Baltimore Sun he’s experienced dark moments over the past year but holds no grudges against the Ravens or NFL commissioner Roger Goodell and is hopeful his football career won’t end in exile.
In the wake of a violent episode that rocked the league, cost Rice his job and ignited a national conversation about domestic violence, the three-time Pro Bowl running back remains a free agent after being reinstated from an indefinite suspension in November.
“The big picture of it all, being the person that I am, I really felt horrible,” Rice said in a recent hourlong interview. “You almost want to punish yourself. I know I’m never going to win the battle of public opinion. Honestly, I almost felt like at one point that it wasn’t worth living. I see why people commit suicide.
“It hurt that bad. I was low, real low. It hurt that bad because you worked your whole life to do all the right things and then you’re the world’s most hated person. It was really tough. My daughter, oh Lord, I grew up without a father, there’s no way I could check out on my own family.”
Rice’s comments, part of his first extensive interview with the local media since the Ravens terminated his $35 million contract in September, come as the start of NFL free agency approaches March 10. He previously spoke on NBC’s “Today” show as he appealed his suspension, and before that answered questions during Ravens training camp.
Crisis management experts say it makes sense for him to speak now, as he attempts to persuade an NFL team to give him a second chance.
“It’s a very smart move for Ray to become even more public and attempt to repair his image and restore the trust that he’s lost since the incident,” said Rob Weinhold, a crisis and issue management expert from the Fallston Group. “He needs to be more of a presence in the court of the public opinion.”
Rice emphasized that he and Janay have improved their relationship significantly through counseling, and said he’s grown since being charged last year with felony aggravated assault after the couple argued and fought following a night of drinking at Revel Casino. Rice avoided jail time when he was accepted into a pretrial intervention program by New Jersey prosecutors, which he’s scheduled to complete May 19.
Rice said he has a good relationship with Janay. “Every day gets better,” he said.
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SOURCE: The Baltimore Sun