By John Clarke
(Reuters) – Baltimore Ravens Pro Bowl running back Ray Rice, who has been suspended by the National Football League without pay for the first two games of the 2014 season for hitting his wife, apologized to her on Thursday and vowed to speak out against domestic violence.
The NFL ordered the suspension last week, determining that Rice had violated the league’s conduct policy when he was arrested in February following a fight with his then-fiancee Janay Palmer.
“I am going to go out there and be an ambassador against domestic violence to make sure that someone doesn’t have to go through what I went through and what me and my wife went through,” Rice said in his first public remarks since the NFL decided to suspend him. Rice said he had failed to apologize to his wife during his last emotional public appearance, which he called awkward.
“She’s a great mother and a great wife,” Rice said. “She can do no wrong. She’s an angel.”
Rice was also fined $58,000. Combined with the suspension, Rice’s loss will total $470,000.
“It hurts that I can’t go out and play football,” he said. “But it hurts more that I’m going to have to explain this to my daughter some day.”
Police arrested Rice and Palmer on Feb. 15 at Atlantic City’s Revel Casino and Hotel. Surveillance recordings showed them hitting each other in the casino elevator and Rice knocking Palmer unconscious, police said.
The couple was married the day after a New Jersey grand jury indicted Rice in March. An assault charge against his wife has been dropped.
Rice was accepted into a pre-trial intervention program in May, thus avoiding jail time.
Rice’s case was at the center of a recent controversy after ESPN commentator Stephen Smith suggested that women who provoke men are to blame for domestic violence. Smith was suspended by the network Tuesday for a week.
(Reporting by John Clarke in Annapolis, Maryland; Editing by Scott Malone and Bill Trott)