Ray Rice talks, but questions remain

May, 23, 2014
May 23
6:51
PM ET
video
Three months ago an inordinate number of questions swirled around Baltimore Ravens running back Ray Rice.

They still do. And that's even after he finally addressed the Feb. 15 incident that led to a charge of aggravated assault for allegedly striking his fiancée, Janay Palmer -- now his wife -- in an Atlantic City casino.

By speaking publicly Friday for the first time since the incident, Rice took the necessary step of taking responsibility and apologizing for failing "miserably." It was an emotional first step toward rehabbing an image that once had Rice firmly portrayed as one of the NFL's good guys.

But Friday's event was only that -- a step. And it was a somewhat awkward step considering neither Rice nor Palmer, who accompanied him on the dais at the Ravens' training complex, took any questions on the advice of their legal counsel and the players' association. Since the issue is still pending in the judicial system, the couple was advised to put off answering questions until later. So they did the talking with Rice referring to notes on his phone.

From a legal standpoint, the episode will presumably be resolved sometime next year when Rice completes a pretrial intervention program that was given to him by a judge Tuesday. If that happens, the third-degree assault charge will be dismissed. The arrest would stay on his record, but without the conviction.

While we know what could happen to Rice legally, we still aren't sure what penalty the league will impose and whether Rice will be suspended.

The question surrounding Rice's immediate status may soon get answered, but others still remain.

Among them is this: How might this situation impact Rice's playing future? That is to say, will the stress of dealing with this off-field issue speed up the apparent career downturn he seems to be experiencing on the field? After earning his place among the NFL's elite backs in his first five seasons, Rice had his worst year in 2013, averaging just 3.1 yards per carry. The 27-year-old rushed for 660 yards and four touchdowns last season. Through the entire abysmal year, the Ravens stood by him, and have continued to do so throughout this ordeal.

In a certain sense, they have good reason to. After all, Rice was a model citizen around the Baltimore area, devoting his time to charities and service in the community.

While some of Rice's word choices Friday have been criticized on social media, he still made an important gesture by apologizing and seeking redemption.

In the months since the event, he contends that he and Palmer "really had time to reflect on each other." They have been "blessed to work it out together," he added.

Curiously, Palmer -- whose charges in the incident were dropped -- also apologized before expressing faith in her husband.

"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."

Rice is convinced he'll prove that he will come out of this a better man.

"I failed miserably, but I wouldn't call myself a failure because I'm working my way back up," he said.

That has yet to be seen.

Coley Harvey

ESPN Cincinnati Bengals reporter

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