OWINGS MILLS, Md. — His voice cracking with emotion, Baltimore Ravens running back Ray Rice acknowledged Friday that he "failed miserably" and apologized for the actions that led to his arrest on assault charges.
Rice was arrested following a Feb. 15 altercation in Atlantic City, New Jersey, in which he allegedly struck fiancee Janay Palmer. The couple married in late February, and both went to the stage at the team training complex for their first public comment since the arrest.
"I failed miserably, but I wouldn't call myself a failure because I'm working my way back up," he said.
Wearing a light gray suit and striped tie, Rice spoke for just over six minutes and didn't take questions. His speech was not prepared, but he often referred to notes on his cellphone.
"I know many of my supporters, sponsors, don't want to be in partnership with me. That's my fault," Rice said. "I take full responsibility for that. One thing I do know is that I'm working every day to be a better father, a better husband and just a better role model."
Rice was accepted Tuesday into a diversion program, which upon completion could lead to the charges being expunged.
"I want you to know I'm still the Ray Rice that you know, or used to know, or grown to love," Rice said. "I'm still the same guy. As me and Janay wish we could take back 30 seconds of our life, we definitely sit here and tell you that we are better parents, we are better lovers and also better friends."
Among those in attendance were Rice's mother, Janet, and his father-in-law, Joe Palmer. Rice was only 5 when his father was shot and killed, and he referred to Joe Palmer as the" father I never had."
"Thank you for teaching me how to be a man," he told Palmer. "I know it wasn't easy when you saw everything that happened, but I just remember your words: 'You'll get through it.' Those words will always stick with me, because one thing you gave me is trust."
The 27-year-old Rice has played six years for the Ravens. He is the team's career leader in total scrimmage yards and ranks behind only Jamal Lewis in total yards rushing.
"My job is a very powerful job, and I'm blessed to be playing at the highest level of sports," Rice said. "But the job I did was more than scoring touchdowns. It was getting out in the community and helping out. So when this thing happened with me and my wife, one thing I can say is, sometimes in life you will fail."
Rice is eager to put this behind him, but it's possible that a suspension from the NFL looms ahead. His focus now, however, is clearly on his personal life.
"There were a lot of tears shed, but me and Janay can truly say we're in a better place," Rice said. "We just hope to one day gain back everyone's trust. We're still the same people and I'm still the same person."
After Rice was done speaking, he turned toward Janay, who enforced the couple's united front.
"I do deeply regret the role I played in the incident that night," she said. "But I can say that I am happy that we continue to work through it together. I love Ray, and I know that he will continue to prove himself not only to you all, but to the community, and I know he will gain your respect back in due time."