OWINGS MILLS, Md. -- Baltimore Ravens running back Ray Rice apologized to his wife and all women affected by domestic violence on Thursday, when he took questions for the first time since his alleged altercation with his then-fiancee in February.
While Rice declined twice to give details about what happened in the Atlantic City, New Jersey, elevator, he said it was a "one-time incident" and expressed his intentions to become an "ambassador" against domestic violence.
"I made the biggest mistake of my life," Rice said.
"My actions that night were totally inexcusable," he said. "That night I replay over and over in my head. That's not me. My actions were inexcusable. That's something I have to live with the rest of my life. The pain I'm talking about living with is waking up every day, and my daughter is 2 years old now, and I have a little girl, who's very smart, very intelligent, and one day she's going to know the power of Google, and me having to explain that to her, what happened that night."
Rice's wife, Janay, stood in a balcony overlooking the news conference but Rice never looked up at her. He stressed that his wife did "no wrong" and referred to her as "an angel."
Unlike Rice's news conference in May, Rice made a point to apologize to his wife directly.
"There are many nights that me and my wife sleep together and we still have to deal with this," Rice said. "And her pain is my pain, my pain is her pain, the one thing I wanted to do today is you know apologize to my wife, who I've known since high school. I've known her since a kid. I met her in high school and she's the same girl now, great mother, and she's a great wife, and she supports me throughout.
"When the time is right, when the time is right, and I say that because you have to fix yourself before you can go out and help others, and when the time is right me and my wife want to go out there and help people, anybody, violence of any kind, especially man on woman, is just not right. It's not right, it shouldn't be tolerated, it's not right for society, no matter what. That's something I'll stand by and I have to pay for that."
There were about 30 teammates who huddled around reporters to listen to Rice's news conference, including wide receivers Steve Smith and Jacoby Jones, tight end Dennis Pitta, running back Bernard Pierce and kicker Justin Tucker.
In taking questions from reporters for the first time since that incident in February, Rice faced 15 cameras and a media gathering that was three rows deep on either side of him.
Rice allegedly struck Palmer unconscious on Feb. 15 while in a casino elevator in Atlantic City. Video surfaced online showing Rice dragging an apparently unconscious Palmer out of the elevator. The couple has since married.
He pleaded not guilty to a third-degree charge of aggravated assault and avoided trial by being accepted into a pretrial intervention program in May.
"I own my actions," he said. "I just don't want to keep reliving the incident. It doesn't bring any good to me. I'm just trying to move forward from it. I don't condone it. I take full responsibility for my actions. What happened that night is something that I'm going to pay for the rest of my life."
Rice was suspended two games by the NFL last Thursday and fined a total of $529,411.24 -- the combined total of two game checks for this year and one check from last season.
The length of the NFL's punishment came under fire from traditional and social media as being too lenient.
On Thursday, United States Senators Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn), Tammy Baldwin (D-Wis.) and Chris Murphy (D-Conn.) wrote commissioner Roger Goodell and urged the NFL to stiffen its penalty. In a separate letter, they also asked the Ravens to act swifter if the NFL declined.
"Mr. Rice's suspension reflects a disturbingly lenient, even cavalier attitude towards violence against women," the senators wrote. "We therefore urge you to take two steps immediately. First, reconsider and revise Mr. Rice's suspension to more adequately reflect the seriousness of his offense. We are also writing to the Baltimore Ravens to request that they impose additional discipline under their own authority, but it is imperative that the NFL itself makes clear that this conduct is truly unacceptable."
Rice responded to the criticism as a whole during his news conference.
"The two-game suspension I don't have any control over anything that ... you know that's higher authorities," he said. "That's something the courts, the NFL commissioner, those are people who make decisions that I can't control, but one thing I can control going forward is being a better father, being a better husband, being a better role model being a better overall person going forward."
This was different from his news conference in May, when he made some poor word choices (saying "failure is not getting knocked down") and nervously fumbled through his notes on his cell phone.
"I let my wife down, I let my daughter down, I let my wife's parents down, I let the whole Baltimore community down," Rice said. "And I got my teammates here to support me and I let my teammates down, you know I let so many people down because of 30 seconds of my life that I know I can't take back."