Ravens' Harbaugh supports Ray Rice

ByJamison Hensley ESPN logo
Thursday, July 31, 2014

OWINGS MILLS, Md. -- On the eve of Ray Rice addressing the media, Baltimore Ravens coach John Harbaugh continued to support his starting running back, saying he was "disappointed" in the domestic violence incident but was "proud" in what he's done since.

"I hate what happened. What happened was wrong. Flat out," Harbaugh told reporters after Wednesday's training camp practice. "The thing I appreciate about it is how Ray has handled it afterward by acknowledging it was wrong and he'll do everything he can do to make it right. That's what you ask for when someone does a wrong thing. So, I'm proud of him for that."

Harbaugh was alluding to the fact that Rice and his now-wife Janay Palmer entered into counseling together immediately following the incident in an Atlantic City casino elevator, where he allegedly struck her unconscious. Rice was accepted into a pretrial intervention program in May to avoid trial, and he was suspended two games by the NFL last Thursday.

Harbaugh declined to address the length of Rice's suspension, which has come under fire for being too soft.

"Those that make those decisions do so with great seriousness," Harbaugh said. "They aim to be just and fair. They aim to do right by all parties involved. Public opinion will often push those decisions in certain directions. But both of those decision makers -- not the opinion makers, but the decision makers -- who know all the knowable facts of the case came from the same direction on it. So, we said all along that the circumstances will then determine the outcome of this and we said all along that we will respect the outcome. That's going to be tough for us. That's going to be two games without one of our very best players. But we'll move forward and deal with it."

Rice is scheduled to speak to the media following Thursday's practice. It's the first time since the incident that Rice will take questions from reporters.

Harbaugh said Rice is "not going to give you some polished press conference" and expects the three-time Pro Bowl player to speak from "the heart." He also acknowledged that the media attention on Rice's situation won't end after he talks Thursday.

"That's the thing about making choices," Harbaugh said. "That's the thing you try to impress upon your guys. Hey, I try to impress my daughter. I try to impress upon myself when you make choices. It used to be that no one would know or they wouldn't last or they might be forgotten. It was still in your heart. You still knew. Now, it's you and everybody else still knows. That's the ramifications of the choices that you make. The main thing people need to learn from it, other players need to learn from it, players around the league should learn from it, kids should learn from it."

Like many of the Ravens officials, Harbaugh has publicly supported Rice this entire offseason. He reiterated his close relationship with Rice on Wednesday.

"I'm there for Ray as a friend and I also think an older male figure in his life and try to give him advice and wisdom," Harbaugh said. "And just be there for him. A friend is born from adversity. That's what it is really about with Ray. I love the way he's handled it."

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