Ray Rice to address aggravated assault charges, but likely won't avoid suspension

USA TODAY Sports

Ray Rice is set to speak for the first time since being arrested for a domestic violence incident last February. Unfortunately for him, history suggests he will be sitting to start the 2014 season.

Ray Rice is set to address media for the first time since being arrested and ultimately indicted on aggravated assault charges earlier this year. The press conference, set for 3 p.m. ET on Friday, will presumably feature a profuse apology from the Baltimore Ravens running back, who was caught on camera dragging his unconscious then-fiancee Janay Palmer out of an elevator inside of an Atlantic City casino.

Though the charges carried a potential prison sentence of five years, Rice should avoid a trial and jail time if he completes a diversionary pre-trial program for first-time offenders, according to the Baltimore Sun. Rice was accepted into the program this week, and will have charges against him dropped if he is able to stay out of trouble and attend regular counseling with Palmer, who is now his wife.

History against Rice

Though Rice is on track to clear his name with the law, he may have trouble escaping punishment from the NFL. Commissioner Roger Goodell has the authority to mete out suspensions even when players escape charges, as when he suspended Ben Roethlisberger for six games in 2010 for an alleged sexual assault (the suspension was later reduced to four games).

Indeed, the precedent set by two former Ravens would seem to indicate that Rice will likely be sitting to start the season. Cornerback Cary Williams was allegedly involved in a domestic violence incident in 2009 when he was with the Tennessee Titans for which his agent said he was not arrested, but he still sat two games for Baltimore in 2010. Another Ravens cornerback, Fabian Washington, pleaded not guilty to domestic violence charges and entered an intervention program, but still earned a one-game suspension. Both players were first-time offenders.

Ravens send support

The forthcoming press conference may be Rice's best chance of alleviating the punishment handed down by the league. He will be joined at the event by Palmer, according to the Baltimore Sun's Aaron Wilson. Rice also seemingly has the full support of the Ravens. Head coach John Harbaugh has reportedly met with Rice several times since the incident, and general manager Ozzie Newsome has insisted that the team will wait until the NFL makes a ruling before commenting on the matter.

President Dick Cass said Thursday that nobody should be quick to pass judgment:

"I'm hoping that when people look at Ray as a person, they will not judge him by this one incident," Cass said. "I always like to say, we have the advantage of knowing Ray. We've been with him and known him so well for six years. I think we know what kind of person he is, and I don't think this incident represents the type of person that he is, and I'm hoping our fans will give him a chance. And I think they will."

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