03:20 - Source: CNN
Ray Rice's wife speaks out

Story highlights

Janay Rice says Baltimore Ravens suggested she apologize; she was OK with it

Ray Rice's wife gave her second interview to "Today," which aired part of it Monday

"Everybody makes mistakes," she says, defending her husband after February incident

Earlier this year, video captured Ray Rice hitting then-fiancee, dragging her out of elevator

CNN —  

Ray Rice is a human who made a mistake that he’d never made before and that he won’t make again, wife Janay Rice said in an interview that aired Monday.

“Ray knows me, and there’s no way. He knows what he would have to deal with. … 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.”

It was Janay Rice’s second interview since her husband, a former running back for the Baltimore Ravens, viciously knocked her out in a casino elevator in Atlantic City, New Jersey, after a night of heavy drinking.

Images from inside the elevator would change the pair’s lives, as Ray Rice was indefinitely suspended by the NFL, and Janay Rice became a poster child for domestic violence.

The most shocking clip shows the 200-pound football player punching his then-fiancee, sending her head into the wall before she collapses unconscious to the floor. Surveillance video shows Ray Rice drag her partially out of the elevator and callously dump her limp body face-first on the ground.

“He said he was just terrified,” Janay Rice told the “Today” show in an interview that aired Monday. “He was in such shock that this just happened, he didn’t know how to function.”

Opening up

Sitting next to her mother, Candy Palmer, and occasionally fending off sniffles and dabbing her eyes with a tissue, Janay Rice said she was angry and hurt by her husband’s violence, but it also hurt to see his career pulled out from under him, to lose the “support system” that the Ravens provided and to be forced to “pick up and move.”

She attributed Ray Rice’s actions that February night, which ended with both of them initially charged with simple assault, on “humanness.”

“Everybody makes mistakes. After this whole situation, you would think that we lived in a country full of people who never made a mistake,” she said.

In a news conference arranged by the team three months after the incident, Ray Rice apologized for the situation and to the Ravens and the team’s fans. Janay Rice then issued a controversial apology herself, saying, “I do deeply regret the role that I played in the incident.”

The Ravens tweeted her words and then deleted them after a firestorm of criticism from those who questioned why Janay Rice would need to apologize after taking a left cross from a pro football player who benches 400 pounds.

About that apology

Rice told “Today” she agreed to the press conference – and to the Ravens’ suggestion that she apologize – because she thought it would help the situation.

She dubbed the press conference “awkward” but defended her decision to apologize: “I didn’t think it was completely wrong for me to apologize because at the end of the day, I got arrested, too.”

As for the perception that her husband was not conciliatory, Janay Rice refuted the notion, saying he apologized to her “countless” times.

“I wouldn’t be sitting there next to him if I wasn’t the first person to get an apology,” she said.

The Ravens initially defended their player and promised he’d be back. A prosecutor would later drop the charges against Janay Rice and upgrade Ray Rice’s charges to aggravated assault. A grand jury indicted him in March. Ray and Janay Rice wed the next day.

In July, after a disciplinary hearing, the NFL announced it would suspend Ray Rice for two games, a decision widely panned as wide receiver Josh Gordon was kept off the field significantly longer after failing a drug test for marijuana. Yet the league stuck by its decision until another surveillance video – the one that captured the punch – surfaced September 8.

By the end of the day, the Ravens had released Rice and the NFL made his suspension indefinite.

’I was sick to watch it’

Janay Rice never saw the second tape, saying she was “not going to let the public bring me back there.” Her mother saw it, however, and said, “I was sick to watch it.”

Still, Janay Rice, who has been critical of the media’s coverage of her and her husband, said the hardest part about remaining silent throughout the ordeal was seeing her life play out in the media.