As the NFL began preseason training this past weekend, an unsigned Ray Rice is hoping to convince teams he deserves another chance after his domestic violence incident with wife Janay Rice last year.
In an interview with ESPN, the athlete said he’s still trying to piece his life back together, but maintains the incident has given him a deeper perspective on domestic abuse. Rice was seen punching Janay Rice in an Atlantic City elevator last year. The graphic surveillance footage of Janay being dragged and spit on by the player shocked the public.
Rice lost his endorsement deals and his place on the Baltimore Ravens roster. Since the incident, the running back won his appeal to play in the NFL again, but remains unsigned. He says the moment was the worst decision of his life.
“I can understand some people probably never will forgive my actions,” he said. “But I think that every step that I took going forward right now — over time, I want to be able to rewrite the script, to tell my daughter that daddy made the worst decision of his life, but this is what I did going forward.
Calling it a unique situation, Rice says public opinion has a lot to do with teams’ reluctance to sign him. Rice still has a few people in his corner, like his wife and A Call To Men, an anti-domestic violence organization he volunteers with. The organization believes the player has genuinely learned from his mistakes and shown remorse.
They later apologized for speaking on his behalf.
Rice is aware it’s a privilege to play in the NFL, but says he can come back better than ever.
“I treated this year, for me being out, as an injury year except for it wasn’t physical — it was mental,” he said. “It was everything about rehabilitating myself to be the best husband, father, and go out there and share my story. I’m not afraid to say right now that I feel like I’m a rehabilitated man. I took this year as an injury mentally. Mentally, I just went through a lot.”
A poll released by the Huffington Post and YouGov reveals the public is torn on Rice’s return to the NFL. Despite his domestic abuse case, his lackluster performance has also played a role in deferring a comeback.