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Ray Rice pitches himself to NFL teams as ‘rehabilitated man’

Ray Rice insists that he’s a ‘rehabilitated man’ after spending the year on the sidelines following his assault on his wife while the two were still engaged.Jason DeCrow/AP

Ray Rice insists that he’s a ‘rehabilitated man’ after spending the year on the sidelines following his assault on his wife while the two were still engaged.

Domestic abuser Ray Rice is trying to show that he’s “a rehabilitated man” in another effort to improve his image and become more desirable for an NFL team in need of a running back.

The former Ravens and Rutgers standout, who was seen in a video last year knocking out his then-fiancee in an elevator, had a sit-down with ESPN to discuss the incident in an attempt to prove to NFL clubs he’s a changed man.

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“That was the worst decision I’ve ever made in my life,” Rice said. “I try to hold it together when I’m thinking about it, but it’s something that — I have to go out there and help people. I have to make them understand that domestic violence, of any kind, but (especially) man-on-woman, is not allowed in our society.”

Rice sank so low that he told ESPN that he contemplated taking his own life.

“I actually felt what it felt like for people to feel like it wasn’t worth living. I felt like that at one point,” he said. “I know what it felt like to not want to live anymore.”

The New Rochelle product said he can understand why people who have seen the video wouldn’t forgive him, but he wants to change how he’s perceived, particularly by his young daughter when she grows up.

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“Some people probably will never forgive my actions, but every step that I take going forward right now, over time, I want to be able to rewrite the script to tell my daughter that daddy made the worst decision of his life, but this is what I did going forward,” Rice said. “And to the survivors of domestic violence, I understand how real it is and I don’t want to ever take that for granted because it’s a real issue in our society.”

Other than socking his now-wife, Rice regrets not helping her up afterward.

“I did everything wrong,” he said. “At that moment I was out of my mind not to help her up. That’s what plays over in my mind … . Just leaving her there, how could I have done that? How could you not help her up in that moment? That’s the part that I wrestle with today. That’s the person that you talk about — ‘he’s a monster’ — I understand.”

In a companion interview, Rice’s wife, Janay, backed up his claim that he’s a different person today than he was in February of 2013.

“He’s not a wife-beater. He’s a person who made a mistake and he’s human,” she said. “I’m not taking away what he did, but he has done everything that he is supposed to do to redeem himself.”

She also pushed back against the notion that she stayed with Rice because she needed him financially. “Anyone who knows me knows I don’t need Ray. I’m with him because I love him,” she said.

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Rice, 28, didn’t play in 2014 following his suspension. Despite being reinstated in November, he remained unsigned.

In addition to the stigma attached to Rice as an abuser, there are also lingering questions about his effectiveness on the field. The last time he, in 2013, he finished with just 660 yards rushing and four touchdowns in 15 games while nursing a hurt hip. He said he treated the last year as a “mental” injury year and he wants to leave the game on different terms, though he understands why teams continue to shy away.

“I have a lot of hope and faith that I’ll be able to hang them up the right way,” Rice said. “I don’t think anyone questions Ray Rice the football player, but I understand being an NFL player is a huge, huge responsibility. When I made a decision to do what I did — we should as professional athletes hold ourselves to a higher standard.”

“I’m just really hopeful for a second chance,” he added.

One potential opportunity arose Tuesday with the news that Houston running back Arian Foster could miss half the regular season with a groin injury, but the Houston Chronicle reported the Texans are unlikely to pursue signing Rice.

Any team willing to do so will have to deal with questions about its willingness to sign a player involved in such a toxic, high-profile domestic violence case.

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