Janay Rice described the emotional toll of being thrust into the public eye as a victim of domestic abuse in an emotional interview on NBC’s Today show on Monday.
“That’s been the hardest part,” she said, “is having so much of your life made public and have it all be negative.”
Janay, whose husband Ray was suspended from the NFL after videotape of him beating her unconscious was leaked to the media, became visibly upset when Matt Lauer read back a post from her Instagram account shortly after the footage surfaced, in which she called the public response “a horrible nightmare.” Wiping away tears from her eyes, Janay said, “I was so angry and hurt.”
She insisted that there had been no further instances of abuse since the footage surfaced in September, and that her husband’s judgement the night of the assault had been skewed by alcohol. “He said he was terrified. He was in such shock that this had just happened and he didn’t know how to function at that point.”
Nonetheless, she reaffirmed her support for her husband, claiming that NFL commissioner Roger Goodell didn’t tell the truth when he said Ray Rice was “ambiguous” about hitting her in an elevator.
“I know for a fact … that Ray told the honest truth that he’s been telling from February,” Janay said in the interview.
The former Baltimore Ravens running back was arrested on Feb. 15 for third-degree aggravated assault, after the release of a video showing Ray dragging his unconscious then fiancée out of an elevator. The two-game suspension was made indefinite, and he was immediately dropped from the team, after a second video was released on Sept. 8 showing him striking Janay in the face.
An arbitrator overruled Ray’s indefinite suspension on Friday, calling it “arbitrary” and an “abuse of discretion.” Four teams have since shown interest in signing Ray, including the Indianapolis Colts and New Orleans Saints, although they are not expected to pursue him.
In the Monday interview, Janay said that the league and its fans would eventually forget the images and give him another chance.
“We know it’s going to take some work,” Janay told NBC’s Matt Lauer. “So I think once he shows them who he is and they reach out to people here, and they find out the things that he’s done, then I think it’s definitely good … At the end of the day, he’s a football player and that’s what they should be really be focused on, because he’s proven himself as a football player for seven years. There’s never been a question on what he can do on the field.”
Ray Rice, who was set to earn $3.5 million this season, has filed a grievance against the Ravens.
Janay’s mother, Candy Palmer, was also present for the interview. Palmer said that while she had seen the footage, and “was kind of sick” at the thought of it, the abuse does not define her daughter. “I totally understand how people look at that and think that’s who she is,” Palmer said. “She’s not.”
The interview will continue with a second segment on Tuesday.