OWINGS MILLS, Md. -- Ray Rice stepped to the microphone, took a deep breath and spoke for 17 minutes about what he called "the biggest mistake" of his life. His arrest for domestic violence against his then-fiancee last February is something Rice figures will haunt him long after his NFL career has ended.
The Ravens running back was arrested on assault charges after a Feb. 15 altercation in New Jersey in which he allegedly struck Janay Palmer. Rice has been accepted into a diversion program, which upon completion could lead to the charges being dropped.
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"My actions that night were totally inexcusable," said Rice, who during training camp yesterday spoke publicly for the first time since receiving a two-game suspension.
"My daughter is 2 years old now. One day she's going to know the power of Google,'' he said. "Me having to explain that to her, what happened that night, that's something I have to live with the rest of my life."
Rice was referring to a grainy video in which he is shown dragging Palmer, now his wife, from an elevator at an Atlantic City casino.
"I don't want to keep reliving the incident. I'm trying to move forward," he said. "What happened that night was a huge mistake, and that's what I'll keep it at. I don't condone any of my behavior. I take full responsibility for my actions. My wife can do no wrong."
Rice, 27, wore a pained expression during the session. More than a dozen TV cameras were in place, and several of his teammates stood behind the throng to show their support.
"It was the first time it ever happened," Rice said. "I've never had a problem with domestic abuse. This was a one-time incident."
In addition to the two-game suspension, he was fined three paychecks totaling more than $500,000. Said Rice, "I never planned to appeal any kind of punishment. So whether it was two games, four games, six games, eight games, I was going to own my actions and be a man about it and take whatever was given to me."