Ray Rice is sorry. He wants you to know how sorry he is for knocking out his fiancée Janay, who is now his wife. He would like to sincerely apologize for dragging her out of an Atlantic City hotel elevator. We know this because Rice told us so. He told the world in a televised public apology broadcast Friday afternoon from Baltimore.
"I apologize for the situation my wife and I were in," the Baltimore Ravens running back said.
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Heartfelt apologies from our celebrity betters go way back. And they're usually complete bullshit, as they were when Richard Nixon told the world he wasn't a crook, and as during Paula Deen's mascara-melting mea semi-culpa for making black people dress up like syrup mascots. They were sorry, too. Sort of. It was a qualified sort of sorry.
Public apologies have, at this point, become their own genre, one that by now deserves its own taxonomy. I really hope there are some graduate students out there deconstructing them for a dissertation. If there are, they'd do well to save a chapter for what Rice and his wife did in front of the cameras.
This would be a good time to read Rice's apology again, and give some thought to whether it actually is an apology.
"I apologize for the situation my wife and I were in."
Rice's apology is special because he really believes it; a shocking portion of Rice's press conference was devoted to Successories-style affirmations about how he will recover from and get past this ... situation that ... occurred. Stranger still, Rice somehow managed to get his wife Janay -- whom he married right before he was supposed to go to trial for a more serious version of domestic assault -- to accept an equal share of blame for the incident. She apologized, too.
A quick refresher on what all this apologizing is about: surveillance footage from the Revel Casino in Atlantic City shows Rice knocking his wife unconscious. Authorities did not release that tape to the public. However, footage of Rice dragging his unconscious fiancée out of an elevator did make its way onto the internet.
Initially, both were charged with assault, but the charges against Janay Palmer were dropped, leaving Rice facing more serious allegations. Rice plead not guilty, and prosecutors agreed to a deal that would send Rice to an intervention program. Janay Rice wrote a letter to the court in support of her husband.
She really went to bat for him during the first and only stop on the Ray Rice apology tour. I'd write out her full quote, but there's no need, because the helpful folks running the Ravens official Twitter account, who were live-tweeting the conference, insta-reported the most jarring moment of the whole spectacle.
Janay Rice says she deeply regrets the role that she played the night of the incident.— Baltimore Ravens (@Ravens) May 23, 2014
And there she is, the woman who Rice knocked out and dragged out of the elevator, accepting culpability for her role in the whole thing. The situation that occurred. All this passive-voice talk, all this misplaced responsibility.
I wasn't at the Revel Casino to know exactly what happened in February, of course, so I don't know if maybe there was an argument that led up to the moment where Rice knocked his wife out in front of security cameras. That's beside the point, of course: what Rice did is impossible to justify, which makes an explanation unnecessary. Still, Rice's wife accepting equal blame for being knocked unconscious and dragged, by Ray Rice, is a pretty terrible attempt at an explanation.
Rice's own obliviousness to the perversity of all this further sells his sincerity. He even threw in one of those stupid motivational tropes pro players use to jam up your timeline. Not just any trope either, a thematically appropriate one.
Ray Rice: "I won't call myself a failure. Failure is not getting knocked down. It's not getting up."— Baltimore Ravens (@Ravens) May 23, 2014
Rise and grind, for sure.
At least take a moment away from being tone deaf to tell us you're thinking of the children.
Ray Rice: "First off, I would like to apologize." Apologizes to the organization, his fans, kids, and "everyone who was affected."— Baltimore Ravens (@Ravens) May 23, 2014
Whew. But not just any kids, does your own daughter understand what you're saying? Also: "was affected." By the situation that occurred.
Ray Rice's family and daughter are seated in the front row of the press conference.— Baltimore Ravens (@Ravens) May 23, 2014
Rice had his wife, the mother of his daughter, accept equal blame for her own domestic abuse in front of their child.
The Ravens rallied to Rice's defense throughout this saga, as teams do. It wasn't just limited to some incredible social media support. Next, the case goes to Roger Goodell, who will decide on a possible suspension from the league.
Too many women get trapped in abusive relationships. For various reasons, practical and economical and emotional and otherwise obvious and easily understood reasons, they're unable to walk away from the asshole who insists on treating them like a draught animal. I try to avoid hot takes, but I hope the commissioner throws the book at Rice. Give him one game for every person forced to suffer as Janay Rice has suffered. Help Ray Rice understand how sorry he should be.