Ray Rice Apology Botched: Awkward Mea Culpa For Assault Charge Called PR Disaster

Ray Rice and wife Janay

Ray Rice, the star NFL running back, attempted to apologize publicly for the first time Friday for a February 15 incident in which he allegedly struck his then-girlfriend Janay Palmer, appearing to knock her out cold. Portions of the incident, in which Rice is seen dragging Palmer’s limp body out of an elevator in an Atlantic City hotel, were captured on security camera video and led to the arrest of Ray Rice on aggravated assault charges.

The day after Rice was indicted on the charges, he and Palmer were married.

But his Friday apology appears to have created almost as many public relations problems for Ray Rice as the original incident. The media’s response to the apology, delivered at a press conference with Janay Rice seated on the podium next to Ray Rice, has focused on what was seen as Rice’s self-pitying attitude in the six-minute statement — exemplified by his failure to apologize publicly to Janay Rice, the victim of his assault.

In fact, Ray Rice’s employer, the Baltimore Ravens, made the situation worse by taking to its Twitter account to note that Janay Rice herself had apologized for her “role” in the assault — even though she was the victim of it.

But the team’s Twitter account contained no apology offered to Janay Rice.

The New York Daily News ripped Ray Rice, who said in his statement that he “failed miserably” as “more out of tune than most athletes when asking for the public’s forgiveness….What he really appeared to fail at was an apology,” said the paper, noting that Rice said in his statement, “failure is not getting knocked down. It’s not getting up.”

The statement seemed inappropriate because Rice appeared to be saying that he too had been “knocked down,” despite the fact that it was Janay Rice who was dragged from an elevator on the ground, apparently “knocked down.”

USA Today called the Ray Rice apology “botched,” noting that Rice apologized directly to the Ravens owner, general manager, and coach — but not to his wife.

Fox Sports commented that “most of what (Ray Rice) said left the public and media shaking their heads,” while Matthew Stevens of the blog Baltimore Beatdown noted that “several fans and media members have publicly wondered where Ravens’ PR, Rice’s agent, and lawyer all were on reviewing his statement before he read it.”

Yahoo! Sports criticized Rice for focusing largely on himself throughout most of the statement — after which he took no questions — and declaring, “I’m still the same Ray Rice,” adding only, “Me and Janay wish we could take back 30 seconds of our life,” as if the assault were the result of “temporary insanity.”