Ray Rice rehabs image, hopes for NFL return
After spending a year in football exile, former Ravens and Rutgers star, Ray Rice, is breaking his silence as he eyes a return to the NFL.
In an interview with ESPN's Jemele Hill, Rice said he is a rehabilitated man who has taken responsibility for his actions.
Rice went from one of pro football's poster boys to an unemployed, nuclear pariah after video surfaced last September of an ugly domestic violence incident from Atlantic City's now-shuttered Revel Casino.
In the footage, Rice is seen knocking his then-fiancee, now-wife, Janay, out cold with a punch and then dragging her lifeless body out of the elevator.
The shocking video raised the domestic violence issue to the forefront of the sports and social media worlds. Several prior incidents involving other athletes had brought awareness to domestic violence, but it reached a fever pitch as the public witnessed Rice's case first-hand.
The price has been hefty for the 28-year-old.
Rice was suspended for two games, released by the Ravens, and went unsigned by any other NFL team last season. As training camp kicks off this week around the league, Rice remains without a team.
"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."
He admits he even contemplated suicide, at one point, when things really got hot under the collar.
"I actually felt what it felt like for people to feel like it wasn't worth living. I felt like that at one point," he said. "I know what it felt like to not want to live anymore."
But, the former Scarlet Knights standout has found faith and hope in turning his life and career around.
In addition to undergoing counseling and speaking to domestic violence groups, Rice has taken accountability with his wife and daughter, calling the episode the lowest point in his life.
"I can understand some people probably never will forgive my actions," he said to ESPN. "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."
After being forced to relive the terrible incident through video and the public, Rice said his biggest regret was not tending to his wife after the punch as she was motionless on the ground.
"I did everything wrong at that moment. I was out of my mind not to help her up," Rice said. "To treat her like nothing was the worst thing I could have ever done."
He understands why no team has signed him yet and why they may shy away from him, but holds out that hope for a second chance.
Numerous times in the ESPN interview, Rice referred to playing in the NFL as a 'privilege' and acknowledged another opportunity is not set in stone for him.
Rice also knows winning back the public's support and trust will be an even more difficult task.
"I always preach one or two bad decisions, and your dream could become a nightmare. Well, I had to eat my own words. I truly lived a nightmare. There is no set in stone whether you're going to get a second chance or not. I have to set my hope and faith and everything else that I'm doing in my life, I'm just really hopeful for a second chance."