Ray Rice has returned to New York as a Super Bowl champion, making the usual celebratory and promotional rounds, but the victory doesn't seem to have changed him, as he's been quick to make the celebrations more about others than himself.
The Baltimore Ravens' star running back, a New Rochelle High School grad, held a private gathering for family and friends on Feb. 9, nearly a week after his team defeated the San Francisco 49ers 34-31 in Super Bowl XLVII. But the way Rice saw it, the party was mostly to celebrate his daughter Rayven's first birthday -- a little late.
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"I didn't want the party to be about me. Obviously, people were congratulating me. But it was really about the little one in that moment," Rice said Thursday before a promotional event for Gillette at the Time Warner Center in Manhattan.
When asked about a March 2 rally scheduled by the City of New Rochelle in his honor, Rice suggested that the event will be a good opportunity to celebrate two recent championships won by his alma mater.
"We're all bringing different championships back to New Rochelle," said Rice, 26. "We've got the world championship from me. We've got the state championship from the high school football team. And you've got the national championship from the cheerleaders. It just shows how much greatness is in our town."
Rice is still getting used to the fact that he is a member of a Super Bowl championship team. What he values most about the experience is that he and his 2012 Ravens teammates will forever be linked, he said.
"In the NFL, every year, your team and your locker room are different," he said. "And this is one thing that keeps our guys together for the rest of our lives, saying we won a Super Bowl together. You can say you won games together. When you win a Super Bowl together, it puts you in a special category."
Rice's first Super Bowl was a bizarre one. Early in the second half, with Baltimore leading 28-6, a portion of the New Orleans Superdome's lights went out, resulting in a 34-minute delay. The Ravens staved off a 49ers comeback bid to escape with the three-point victory.
"I was a little bit amazed," Rice said of the power outage. "You prepare for halftime. You prepare for TV timeouts. You don't prepare for a blackout. So it's something you have to adjust to, and I'm just glad we overcame it."
Rice said he has his sights set on winning another Super Bowl ring and being remembered as one of the best to ever play in the NFL.
"Now it's about maintaining that level of excellence, trying to be great and playing for a legacy," he said. "You don't know how many times you're going to win a Super Bowl. I'm just going to enjoy this one right now, but go out and chase No. 2."
Rice appeared with model/actress Brooklyn Decker at the Valentine's Day Gillette event, which featured shaving lessons and kisses for Valentine's Day, all somehow related.