Janay Rice Tells 'Today' Roger Goodell Lied, And That Ray Only Hit Her Once

Former Baltimore Ravens running back Ray Rice was cleared by a former U.S. district judge last week — meaning he's no longer suspended from NFL play. During his appeal, Ray Rice's lawyers argued that the running back was straightforward with NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell from the start about the domestic assault incident that took place in February in an Atlantic City casino elevator. Now, Janay Rice is defending Ray's claims, sitting down for an exclusive interview with Today show host Matt Lauer.

Ray Rice won his suspension appeal last week, because the former Ravens star "did not mislead the commissioner and because there were no new facts on which the commissioner could base his increased suspension," U.S. District Judge Barbara Jones, who presided as arbitrator in the appeal, wrote in her decision. In her interview with Lauer, Janay Rice backed the judge's claims. When asked if Ray Rice was "ambiguous" in his initial description of the assault, Janay Rice told Lauer, "No. Not in any way."

Janay Rice, who was Rice's fiancee and known as Janay Palmer at the time of the assault, continued:

I feel like if they wanted to know more details, then they would have asked, but there were no further questions. It's been consistent with everything that he's been saying since February. ... I know for a fact that Ray told the truth.
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Janay Rice wouldn't tell Lauer that Goodell was outright "wrong," but she did allege that her husband's harsh suspension, which took him out of NFL play indefinitely, was most likely a self-righteous act by the NFL and its executives. "I think they did what they had to do for themselves," Janay Rice told Today.

Ray Rice initially received a two-game suspension from the NFL in July for rendering his then-fiancee Janay unconscious. The leniency of the original punishment drew outrage, and Goodell was widely criticized for not taking domestic violence allegations and charges seriously. It wasn't until September, when TMZ released the full elevator video, that Goodell and the NFL handed Rice a more forceful penalty. The running back was also immediately terminated from the Baltimore Ravens following the release of the full video.

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Janay Rice, who has released statements defending her husband, triggered a nationwide conversation about domestic violence and victims. Shortly after the full elevator video was aired, the hashtags #Why I Stayed and #When I Left were created to combat the criticisms alleged against Janay Rice — sometimes by other women — for staying with her husband.

It's clear that Janay Rice doesn't see herself as a victim, though she says she knows Ray Rice "was wrong" when he assaulted her in that Atlantic City elevator. She told Lauer that her husband is not a repeat offender and has only hit her once:

There's no way [he'll hit me again]. He knows what he’d have to deal with. I’m not going to sit there in silence and let something happen to me. And, God forbid, in front of my child. No way.

Janay Rice also said that she has seen the first released tape — of her husband dragging her body into a hallway — but can't bring herself to watch the second. "I refuse. I refuse," she said. "I'm not going to let the public bring me back there."

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