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Janay Rice on 'Today' show: 'Everyone makes mistakes'

In this May 23, 2014, file photo, Janay

In this May 23, 2014, file photo, Janay Rice, left, looks on as her husband, Baltimore Ravens running back Ray Rice, speaks to the media during a news conference in Owings Mills, Md. Photo Credit: AP / Patrick Semansky

Janay Rice, the wife of former Ravens running back Ray Rice, said Monday on NBC's "Today" show that her husband hit her only once -- in the infamous Atlantic City elevator footage -- and has never hit her again, and that she felt victimized by the national attention.

Flanked by her mother, Candy Palmer, Rice was interviewed by Matt Lauer at her Baltimore home. She said she was troubled by the first elevator footage, which showed Ray Rice walking away from her crumpled body. She said although she didn't justify his actions, the two were intoxicated and Ray was "terrified" and "in such shock." She said she refused to watch the second video, which shows Ray punching her and knocking her into the side of the elevator, rendering her unconscious.

When asked if her husband had hit her before, both Rice and Palmer answered "no."

"Not at all," Janay Rice said. "Ray knows me. And there's no way . . . . I'm not going to sit there in silence and let something happen to me, and God forbid, in front of my child, just let it happen? There's no way."

The couple married shortly after the incident and have a 2-year-old daughter.

Janay Rice said the Ravens gave her a "general script" for the apology she made at a May 23 news conference after the first video was released. She said she would not have apologized for her role in the incident if the Ravens hadn't asked her to.

"I didn't think it was completely wrong for me to apologize,'' she said, "because at the end of the day I got arrested, too, so I did something wrong, too."

Then, Rice said, the national floodgates opened, making her a lightning rod for criticism and the unwilling face of domestic violence. Although Rice said she understood the reaction to the apology, she and her mother did not appreciate the scrutiny that followed.

"It's been the hardest thing ever . . . to watch my daughter being trashed and see what's happened to her on national television,'' Palmer said. "I totally understand how people look at that and think that's what she is [a domestic violence victim], but I know her, and she's not.''

Added Rice: "People forget that people are human, everyone makes mistakes . . . You'd think we lived in a country of people that never made mistakes, that have never sinned."

The Rices were arrested on simple assault charges, but the charges against Janay later were dropped. Ray Rice was indicted on aggravated assault charges but later entered a pretrial intervention program. Janay told Lauer that Ray "apologized to me more than once, countless amount of times."

The Ravens released Rice after the second video surfaced, and the NFL suspended him indefinitely Sept. 8. Rice, however, won his appeal against the NFL on Friday and has been reinstated, making him eligible to resume his football career.

Janay said she thought the Ravens' treatment of Rice was unfair. That sentiment led to her Sept. 9 statement on Instagram in which she lambasted the media for causing her family further pain.

"I was so angry and hurt, seeing the man that I loved have everything ripped up from under him," she said. "[Losing] the support system we had from the Ravens made me angry.''

The Ravens declined to comment on the "Today" interview. The NFL did not respond to a request for comment. The second part of the "Today" interview will air Tuesday, with Ray Rice expected to be part of the segment.

With Bob Glauber

Domestic violence hearing. DeMaurice Smith, head of the NFL Players Association, said the union is establishing an eight-member commission to advise it on domestic violence prevention and discipline. Sen. Jay Rockefeller (D-W.Va.) will chair a committee holding a hearing Tuesday on domestic violence in pro sports, with representatives of the NFL, NBA, NHL and Major League Baseball scheduled to testify.

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