Ray Rice’s wife said that, with time, the National Football League and its fans will be able to get the images from her husband’s infamous elevator video out of their minds and take a chance on him as a player again.
“We know it's going to take some work,’’ Janay Rice told TODAY’s Matt Lauer in an exclusive interview that will air on TODAY on Monday and Tuesday. “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. It could help.”
Lauer asked Janay, who is speaking publicly for the first time since her husband’s suspension, what it will take for another team to take a chance on Rice.
“For them to look past this situation, which I know is going to be hard,’’ she said. “But 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.”
Rice was originally arrested on Feb. 15 and charged with third-degree aggravated assault for the incident with Janay at Revel Casino. The first clip of the surveillance video, obtained and released by TMZ, showed Rice dragging an unconscious Janay out of an elevator, which initially resulted in a two-game suspension by the NFL. The league later increased its punishment of Rice to an indefinite suspension upon the release of a second clip, which showed Rice punching Janay in the face.
On Friday, Rice successfully appealed the indefinite suspension handed down by the NFL in September following the released surveillance video in which he was seen assaulting his then-fiancée in an Atlantic City casino elevator. Rice had been requesting reinstatement to the league ever since his contract was terminated by the Ravens on Sept. 8. He is now eligible to sign with any NFL team.
The heavy criticism over the NFL’s handling of the situation led the league to change its policies regarding domestic violence. The running back had been set to earn $3.5 million this season before his contract was terminated. He has also filed a grievance against the Ravens, who signed him to a five-year, $35 million contract in 2012.
More from Matt Lauer's interviews with Janay Rice and Ray Rice:
Ray Rice's wife on elevator incident: 'Like a battle that we just can't win'
Ray Rice seeks 'second chance' for NFL, admits mistake for not apologizing to Janay
‘I was done’: Ray Rice’s wife opens up about elevator incident
Janay Rice: Husband told truth, denies NFL's 'ambiguous' claim