Ravens running back Ray Rice and his wife, Janay Palmer, addressed the media Friday for the first time since both were arrested following an incident at an Atlantic City casino. Video surfaced from the altercation, showing Rice dragging an apparently unconscious Palmer from an elevator.
"I've had many nights and many days and a lot of time to reflect on a lot of things," Rice said, seated next to Palmer at the Ravens' facility. "I first of all want to apologize to [Ravens owner] Steve Biscotti, [general manager] Ozzie Newsome and coach [John] Harbaugh.
"I also want to apologize to my fans, to the kids, to everyone who was affected by this situation that me and my wife were in."
Rice pleaded no contest to one charge of aggravated assault, then was entered into a pretrial intervention program that could result in that count being cleared from his record. An initial assault charge against Palmer was dropped.
"I do deeply regret the role I played in the incident that night," Palmer said. "I love Ray and I know he will continue to prove himself, and I know he will gain the respect back in due time."
Palmer's comments -- and, more specifically, the Ravens' official Twitter account placing an emphasis on her apology -- were met with swift backlash on social media.
"If she wants to stand by her man, that's her choice," read one response. "It is dangerous and irresponsible of the [organization] to give voice to victim blaming."
Rice was quickly chastised for one of his comments, as well. During his opening statement Rice said: "Failure is not getting knocked down, it's not getting up."
Given the nature of the charge against him, it was unfortunate choice of words at best and utterly tone deaf at worst.
Rice still may face punishment, likely in the form of a suspension, from the NFL. Both the league and the Ravens have held off on issuing any sort of ruling on Rice's status, opting to wait for the legal proceedings to play out. However, the Ravens organization has stood behind Rice throughout, as evidenced by Friday's press conference being held on franchise property.
After Rice was indicted in the case, the Ravens released a statement that read in part: "This is part of the due process for Ray. We know there is more to Ray Rice than this one incident."
Rice and Palmer, who were engaged at the time of the incident, entered counseling together following their arrests.
"Throughout this time, we really had a time to reflect on each other and one thing that we were blessed to work it out together," Rice said. "[Not every] relationship is perfect, but me and Jenae together, what counseling has done for us, we want the world to see that. It definitely has helped us out.
ESPN's Chris Mortensen reported that Rice could be suspended for three games or longer, even if the assault charge is expunged from his record. Rice, currently under contract through the 2016 season, is coming off his worst season since 2008 -- he rushed for just 660 yards and four touchdowns last year. Baltimore also spent a third-round draft pick in this year's draft on running back Lorenzo Taliaferro. He could be asked to pick up the slack alongside returning running back Bernard Pierce should Rice miss any time.
The on-field issues are secondary, though, to the disturbing confrontation Rice and Palmer had in February. "I want to thank her for loving me when I was weak," Rice said to Palmer during his press conference, "and building me when I was strong."