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Late For Work 5/26: What's Being Said About Ray Rice


What's Being Said About Ray Rice

Ravens running back Ray Rice came across as "contrite," "emotional" and "sincere" while addressing the media Friday for the first time since his domestic violence arrest in February, but he was also hotly criticized for a major oversight and a poor choice of words.

The running back's voice cracked and he got choked up as he apologized to family, friends, fans, sponsors and Ravens brass for the Revel Casino incident. However, it's the apology that he didn't publicly make that has people talking.

Rice didn't publicly apologize to his wife, Janay, and got heat for saying this, considering the context of the event: "Failure is not getting knocked down. It's not getting up."

Here's how the press reacted to Rice's press conference:

**Gerry Sandusky**[WBAL-TV, Ravens' radio play-by-play announcer]: "I attended the Ray and Janay press conference this afternoon at the Ravens facility and I have listened to the reaction to it since. I'm starting to understand why lawyers don't want their clients to talk to the media. My immediate observation from nine rows back is that Ray Rice spoke with sincerity. His voice quivered with emotion from his first word until his last. Janay's voice quivered [too]. They were both obviously uncomfortable and embarrassed. Ray Rice has taken tremendous heat for not apologizing to Janay. I understand that. He should have listed her first in his apologies. I suspect he felt he has done that enough privately. Watching on social media the span of opinions that have followed the press conference has been informative. I've seen everything from 'train wreck' to 'sincere.'

"Ray fumbled through his notes a few times, when [he] lost his place on his cell phone. Yes, he should have used paper. Absolutely. That's a presentation technique, not a character flaw. The higher the stakes, the lower the technology. I teach that to executives all the time. His choice of words that failure isn't about getting knocked down, it's about getting up wasn't ideal for obvious reasons.

"Ravens wide receiver Torrey Smith attended the press conference to give his support to both Ray and Janay. I thought that said a lot. I've heard from colleagues in the newsroom that they thought it looked terrible that Ray didn't hold Janay's hand or show physical affection during the press conference. Personally, I think it's important that people understand that this is a young couple, up on stage for their public display of a private failure. In the room, I could feel their discomfort. I've never been to a public flogging, but I suspect the sense of anxiety is about the same. Sure, a smoother, more connected, more coordinated interaction between Ray and Janay would have looked a lot better. But guess what? The fact that they had to hold this press conference today points to the couple dealing with much bigger problems than public displays of affection. I don't know anything about Ray and Janay's relationship. I suspect most people fall into that category.

"I am surprised how people rush in and apply presumptions to what they see, hear, and don't hear. I also know this. If Ray and Janay had canoodled and cuddled, held hands, kissed, and looked like the couple of the century, they would have been criticized for being too polished, too coached.

"They couldn't win today. They didn't win today. Today wasn't a game. Anyone who is or has been married knows relationships aren't about winning. Sometimes they are about struggling. And when a young couple has to put their personal struggles on a very public display we don't do them justice by assigning a motivation behind everything they do and say. But we do judge [and] assign a motivation behind everything they do and say. That's the reality. That's why lawyers don't let their clients talk to the media—or let the media ask questions. In the end, the court of public opinion can deliver a much harsher and less consistent verdict."

**Mark Schlereth **[ESPN]:"I thought there was contrition there. I think he understands how disappointing he has been, or his actions were. … As a professional athlete, you live in a fish bowl and everybody sees exactly what you do and who you are and where you go and you have to make good decisions. And if you don't, you have these kinds of incidents. But bottom line, I felt like he was truly remorseful and he's truly trying to make himself a better person. So for me, I look at him and I say, 'Good for you, young man.' I hope it does work out."

**Coley Harvey**[ESPN]: "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." 

**Luke Jones**[WNST]: "Ray Rice was never going to win when he finally broke his silence on Friday. … The parameters of declining to answer questions and scheduling the session on a Friday afternoon entering a holiday weekend created skepticism before Rice and his wife, Janay, ever stepped in front of cameras at the Ravens' training facility in Owings Mills. Before apologizing to Owner Steve Bisciotti, General Manager Ozzie Newsome, Head Coach John Harbaugh, or anyone else, Rice needed to show the world how much he loved the woman sitting next to him and how deeply sorry he was to her. Perhaps the intent was to present a strong and composed partnership between the two, but his lack of an immediate and personal apology to his wife at the beginning made the rest of his words ring hollow."

**Jarrett Bell**[USA Today]: "[Rice] wasn't the only one to fumble. The Ravens' official Twitter site posted that Janay Rice apologized for her role in the incident – inappropriate to be coming from the running back's employer. It could be interpreted as blaming the victim. Rice owned up to his mistake, which is part of the healing for a couple that was married a day after he was indicted. That she stuck with him is a powerful statement in itself. Yet this will play out over the long haul. The ensuing NFL suspension that is just around the corner might be the easiest penalty for Rice. Restoring his tarnished image will be one of the hardest parts."

**David Zurawik**[The Baltimore Sun]: "Now that I've thought about it for almost 24 hours, I can say without reservation it is one of the worst media PR disasters I have ever seen. And that perhaps says as much about the Ravens and Rice's apparent legion of advisers and handlers as it does the troubled running back himself. … Also, if you are going to stage an event like this, make sure you have a big show of support for the person trying to rehabilitate his or her image. Not having Bisciotti, Harbaugh or General Manager Ozzie Newsome there was deadly in its own right."

**Peter King**[]: "What should have happened is Rice should have said, regardless of who hit whom first, and who was responsible for tempers escalating: 'I apologize to my wife for hurting her physically and emotionally that night, and I apologize to my team and those who have supported me so fervently since I've been in Baltimore. There is no one in this incident to blame but me. No man should ever raise a hand to a woman, regardless of the circumstances or what might have led to that moment. I am a better man than that, and I will work hard from this moment forward to try to earn the trust that I have lost back from everyone I know, and from every follower of the Baltimore Ravens. I am deeply sorry. Now I'll answer any questions you might have.'"

Rice's Lawyer Gives 'Hypothetical' Explanation

Michael Diamondstein, Rice's lawyer, gave a detailed "hypothetical" account of what happened between Ray and Janay at the Revel Casino in Atlantic City, N.J.

"This is just a complete hypothetical," Diamondstein said to Matthew Hammond of 97.3 ESPN-FM in New Jersey. "Let's assume, for the sake of argument, rather than enter into the pretrial diversionary program that he entered into, we hypothetically move forward on the case. Hypothetically, we litigate 100 motions, and the video comes out and the video shows — hypothetically speaking now, hypothetically speaking — shows that Ray wasn't the first person that hit and Ray was getting repeatedly hit, but just Ray hit harder, fired one back and hit harder. Hypothetically speaking, and he gets found not guilty. Is that result somehow better? Is it better for the public? Is it better for the Ravens? Is it better for Ray? Is it better for Janay [Rice]?"'s Mike Florio says its "obvious" that Diamondstein is not talking in hypotheticals and wants to send the message that Janay threw the first punch, and threw many, until Ray retaliated with one. Florio believes that the Rice's partly entered the diversionary program to avoid trial and further video of both partners striking each other from emerging.

"[T]he NFL presumably will demand to see the video before deciding on the extent of Rice's suspension," wrote Florio. "His ultimate punishment could depend largely on the initial reaction of Commissioner Roger Goodell to the visual evidence."

Elam, Brown Participate In Charity Kickball

Ravens safety Matt Elam and wide receiver Marlon Brown captained their respective teams in a celebrity kickball game to benefit the Wounded Warrior Project.

"It's a good event for the kids," Elam told The Sun's Aaron Wilson. "It's good giving back to the community and all the fans who take the time out and spend a lot of money to watch us. Just giving back to the community and making their day is big.

"I played kickball as a kid in elementary school. I'm just trying to make it fun. It's been a long time. I'm just having fun and doing it for the fans."

Per Wilson, other Ravens who participated included Kapron Lewis-Moore, Brandon Williams, Brynden Trawick, Gerrard Sheppard, Kamar Aiken and Morgan Cox. Former Raven Art Jones was also in attendance. There were other celebrities as well, including former Maryland basketball player Rodney Elliott, retired professional wrestler Nikolai Volkoff, MMA fighter John Rallo and Baltimore Blast Denison Cabral.

"Had a great time at the kickball event with all my bros and special guests.. !!!! Even tho my team lost lol," Brown tweeted after the game. "Kinda forgot how fun kickball was!"

#Ravens safety @ElamVsElo Celebrity Kickball event to benefit @wwpinc. #GiveBack — Brian Bower (@sportguyRSR) May 25, 2014

Best, Riskiest and Most Surprising Offseason Moves

While the Ravens will tinker with some signings here and there, the bulk of their moves are complete, and ESPN's Jamison Hensley assesses the team's offseason moves.

Best move? Signing wide receiver Steve Smith, Sr. over Eric Decker, Julian Edelman and Hakeem Nicks.

Riskiest move? Not addressing right tackle in the draft or free agency.

Most surprising move? Taking defensive players with their top three draft picks.

Quick Hits

  • Ravens: On this Memorial Day, the #Ravens would like to thank all those who have served our great nation. [Twitter]
  • @TorreySmithWR: Happy Memorial Day to all of our fallen soldiers who have fought and those who continue to fight unselfishly for our freedom THANK YOU [Twitter]
  • @LRiddickESPN: Top 5 teams '14 cash spending/offense: 1. Philly 2. Atlanta 3. Chicago 4. San Diego 5. Baltimore
  • @BaltimoreLuke [WNST]: #Ravens kicker Justin Tucker throwing out today's first pitch... #Orioles [Twitter]
  • @jtuck9: Thanks to the @orioles for hosting me, @amandalbass and some good friends at yesterday's game! [Twitter]
  • @89SteveSmith: To the 1st 500 ppl that cross the finish line #laceupson5k. This Monday 26th of may @SteveSmithFDN [Twitter]
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