- Jamison Hensley, ESPN Staff Writer
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There were plenty of awkward moments during Ray Rice's news conference Friday, from the Baltimore Ravens running back saying "failure is not getting knocked down" (not the best choice of words for someone accused of knocking out his wife) to the times he nervously fumbled through his notes on his cell phone.
A few days removed from the news conference, my biggest problem with it was what Rice didn't say. He never apologized to his wife.
Rice apologized to Ravens owner Steve Bisciotti, general manager Ozzie Newsome and coach John Harbaugh -- none of whom were in attendance. Somehow, he excluded the woman sitting to his right through this disastrous media session. Maybe he simply forgot. But this should have been at the top of his list of talking points.
This was the time for Rice to take accountability. For months, the grainy video image of Rice dragging his then-fiancee out of an elevator has been ingrained in everyone's minds. On Friday, with the national spotlight on him, Rice needed to step up and publicly apologize to her. Instead of taking responsibility, he referred to the incident as the "situation that me and my wife were in."
What made Rice look even worse was his wife acknowledging the role she played in the incident. While Rice's lawyer later insinuated that Rice's wife repeatedly hit the running back first, the fact is Rice was the one indicted by a grand jury on third-degree aggravated assault.
"I wouldn’t call myself a failure," Rice said, "because I’m working my way back up."
The reality is Rice found himself in a no-win situation. If he had read from a prepared statement, he would have been criticized for not being genuine. If he had held hands with his wife through the news conference, he would have been criticized for being too polished or trying too hard to present a united front.
When watching the news conference again over the holiday weekend, there were times when Rice spoke from the heart. He was emotional when he said, “I failed miserably.” There were just not enough of these moments.
It sounded like he was sending a personal message to NFL commissioner Roger Goodell when he talked about how his job is just as much about working in the community as it is scoring touchdowns. Goodell will soon decide Rice's punishment, which could include a multigame suspension.
It also felt like Rice was speaking from his wallet when he mentioned the sponsors who dropped him as a result of the incident. This was out of place and made it seem like damage control.
"One thing that I do know is that I am working every day to be a better father, a better husband and just a better role model," Rice said.
Rice wasn't much of a role model on Friday. He didn't take questions from reporters because he knew he would have to specifically address the incident.
So, why did Rice have this news conference? It came across like someone trying to save their image. He apologized to everyone who has a say in his football future. What he needed to do was apologize to the one who has been sitting by his side this entire time.