This photo from 11/5 shows suspended NFL running back Ray Rice with his wife, Janay, as they arrived for a hearing to fight Ray’s suspension. To recap, Rice was suspended indefinitely after a graphic security video surfaced in September. The vid showed Ray knocking his then-fiancée unconscious in a casino elevator (on Valentine’s Day). After the video became public, the Baltimore Ravens tweeted an apology from Janay for her actions. She later called the experience “a horrible nightmare” and blamed the media. The NFL (which initially suspended Rice for two whole games) promised to look into the claim that they received the video in April. And that’s where we left off.
On Friday, an arbitrator threw out Ray’s suspension. Former U.S. District Judge Barbara S. Jones described the NFL’s suspension of Ray as “arbitrary and an “abuse of discretion.” Rice shall be reinstated immediately to active NFL status and “is now eligible to sign with any NFL team.” So … Ray Rice shall bear no long-term consequences, provided that a team will be dumb enough to sign him.
Now it’s time to roll out the PR machine and hustle, and Janay has stepped up in a big way. She gave an extensive interview to ESPN from the home of Ray’s parents. The result? A 4500 word essay that goes way back to how she met Ray at a movie theater as teenagers. She talks about the elevator incident (as “that day“) and how she and Ray are moving forward. Janae discussed Ray’s “huge heart” and tendency to “put everyone else first.” She admits they have different communication styles, and things got “tough” when they had a baby. I’ve boiled down the interview (the full piece is here along with the ESPN teaser) to the most relevant portions:
There was something different about that day. The two of us were just off, starting that morning. I was annoyed because it was Valentine’s Day and Ray and one of his friends had planned a group trip to Atlantic City, while I had wanted to do something with just the two of us.
I was going to surprise Ray at the hotel with a couples massage, but the manager spoiled the surprise by calling Ray to confirm the time, instead of checking with me. From that moment on I was annoyed with everything, but I continued to act as if I was fine. We weren’t even in Atlantic City yet and nothing seemed to be going right.
After a silent, three-hour car ride we arrived at the hotel, where everything seemed to be much better. We were drinking and having a good time. After the club, our friends from Baltimore, Ray and I decided to go to the late-night restaurant in the casino. Ray and I were bickering. We were drunk and tired and while I know that some people may find it hard to believe, none of the six of us can remember exactly what Ray and I were arguing about. It was that insignificant.
As we were arguing, he was on his phone and not looking at me. I went to reach for his phone, and when he grabbed it back, he spit at me and I slapped him. We got into the elevator and what happened inside is still foggy to me. The only thing I know — and I can’t even say I “remember” because I only know from what Ray has told me — is that I slapped him again and then he hit me. I remember nothing else from inside the elevator.
The next thing I do recall is being in the casino lobby, surrounded by cops.
The police separated us and arrested us. They told me they had the entire incident on video. I was bawling. The cops tried to tell me what happened and I refused to believe them. If anything, I just felt like I was still drunk. I said to one officer, “That’s not us. What do you mean?” There were no marks on my face or body, and I felt perfectly fine. I was in complete shock.
The video didn’t make me rethink our relationship, but I did want more of an explanation from him. I asked him why he left me on the floor like that. I asked him how he felt when he saw that I was unconscious. He told me he was in shock. I asked him what happened when we got out of the elevator. He told me he was terrified because security was there. I asked him how he felt seeing me like that. He said he was thinking, “What did I just do?” I didn’t watch the video again.
We were married March 28, the day after he was indicted for aggravated assault. We didn’t choose that day because of the indictment. It just happened to be a Friday and a time when our families could attend our wedding without having to interrupt their work schedules. I didn’t understand why that was suspicious to some people. We’d been together seven years and had been engaged for two. What happened that night wasn’t going to change the fact that we were going to get married.
Looking out over the media, I became angry, seeing all the people who had been covering this and adding to the story. I wanted to tell everyone what was really on my mind. When it was my turn to speak, I said I regretted my role in the incident. I know some people disagreed with me publicly apologizing. I’m not saying that what Ray did wasn’t wrong. He and I both know it was wrong. It’s been made clear to him that it was wrong. But at the same time, who am I to put my hands on somebody? I had already apologized to Ray, and I felt that I should take responsibility for what I did. Even though this followed the Ravens’ suggested script, I owned my words.
I was extremely surprised and angry that the Ravens released him, because they know him. They were our family, but I felt like the Ravens completely disregarded the past six years with him. Anytime the Ravens needed someone for a community event, Ray was their man. It seemed like a knee-jerk reaction for publicity reasons.
I still find it hard to accept being called a “victim.” I know there are so many different opinions out there about me — that I’m weak, that I’m making excuses and covering up abuse — and that some people question my motives for staying with Ray.
*Huge sigh* I don’t have much to add. Every DV situation is different, yet I do see Janay as a victim (who has chosen to stay with her abuser). It’s hard to believe that Ray’s attack on her was an isolated incident, but that’s the story coming from the united Rice front. This feels like a big PR hustle to get Ray back on the field, and once again, ESPN is complicit in protecting Ray. I’d love to know what Hannah Storm thinks of these new developments.
P.S. Janay and Ray invited Matt Lauer into their home for another interview that will air Monday and Tuesday on Today. I’ll cover it if anything noteworthy happens.
Photos courtesy of Getty & WENN