Janay Rice says NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell wasn't being honest when he said Ray Rice was “ambiguous” about hitting her in a casino elevator.
“I know for a fact … that Ray told the honest truth that he's been telling from February,” Janay Rice told NBC's “Today” show in an interview that will be broadcast Monday. A second segment will be shown Tuesday.
As for Goodell, she said: “I can't say he's telling the truth.”
An arbitrator Friday threw out Ray Rice's indefinite suspension, making the former Baltimore Ravens running back a free agent. Former U.S. District Judge Barbara Jones called Goodell's decision in September to change Rice's original suspension from two games to indefinite “arbitrary” and an “abuse of discretion.”
The Rices met with Goodell in June. He then issued a two-game suspension but increased it to indefinite after an in-elevator video of Rice striking his then-fiancee in February was made public. The Ravens released Rice that day.
“I think they did what they had to do for themselves,” Janay Rice said, referring to the NFL.
Goodell started Rice's appeal hearing on Nov. 5 with more than two hours of testimony. Ray and Janay Rice testified the following day.
Jones wrote: “Because Rice did not mislead the commissioner and because there were no new facts on which the commissioner could base his increased suspension, I find that the imposition of the indefinite suspension was arbitrary. I therefore vacate the second penalty imposed on Rice.”
In her interview with “Today” host Matt Lauer, Janay Rice said she was furious with Ray but never considered leaving him.
“Of course, in the back of my mind and in my heart I knew that our relationship wouldn't be over because I know that this isn't us, and it's not him,” she said.
Rice, a three-time Pro Bowl player during six seasons with the Ravens, hopes to return to the NFL. It's uncertain whether a team will sign him this late in the season. Rice, who turns 28 in January, had his worst season as a pro in 2013. He averaged a career-low 3.1 yards per carry and ran for 660 yards, ending a string of four consecutive seasons over 1,000 yards.
In discussing her husband's chances of landing with a team, Janay Rice said “it's going to take some work.”
“For them to look past this situation, which I know is going to be hard,” she added. “But at the end of the day he's a football player and that's what they should be really 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.”