NFL

Ray Rice's wife Janay defends suspended NFL running back

Janay Rice, the wife of former Baltimore Ravens running back Ray Rice, has broken her silence after her husband was cut by the team and suspended indefinitely by the NFL following the release of a video that shows him violently striking her.

Janay Rice's Instagram message criticizes release of video showing husband striking her

Janay Rice, left, sat next to her husband at a May news conference, during which Ray Rice apologized for assaulting her. A video showing the violence was released to the public this week, and led to Ray Rice's release from the Baltimore Ravens and his suspension from the NFL. (Rob Carr/Getty Images)

Janay Rice, the wife of former Baltimore Ravens running back Ray Rice, has broken her silence after her husband was cut by the team and suspended indefinitely by the NFL following the release of a video that shows him violently striking her.

The following message, which the Baltimore Sun reported was from Janay Rice and was intended to be released publicly, appeared Tuesday on her official Instagram account:

"I woke up this morning feeling like I had a horrible nightmare, feeling like I'm mourning the death of my closest friend. But to have to accept the fact that it's reality is a nightmare in itself. No one knows the pain that the media & unwanted options from the public has caused my family. To make us relive a moment in our lives that we regret every day is a horrible thing. To take something away from the man I love that he has worked his ass of for all his life just to gain ratings is horrific.

"THIS IS OUR LIFE! What don't you all get. If your intentions were to hurt us, embarrass us, make us feel alone, take all happiness away, you've succeeded on so many levels. Just know we will continue to grow & show the world what real love is! Ravensnation we love you!"

ESPN spoke to Ray Rice by telephone.

"I have to be strong for my wife. She is so strong. ... We are in good spirits. We have a lot of people praying for us and we 'll continue to support each other."

Rice then added, "I have to be there for [Janay] and my family right now and work through this."

NFL denies report it didn't ask for video

The message came a day after TMZ posted the video, which shows Ray Rice striking Janay Rice, who at the time was his fiancée, in an elevator at an Atlantic City hotel last February.

The Associated Press reported that, in a higher-quality video shown to the news agency by a law enforcement official Monday night, the two can be heard shouting obscenities at each other and Janay Rice appears to spit at Ray Rice right before he throws a knockout punch. After she collapses, he drags her out of the elevator and is met by some hotel staff. One of them can be heard saying, "She's drunk, right?" And then, "No cops." Rice didn't respond.

Ray Rice had been serving a two-game suspension from the NFL for the incident, which became public in February when TMZ posted a video showing him dragging his unconscious then fiancée out of the elevator.

The two-game suspension, announced in late July, was widely criticized for being too lenient. The NFL subsequently announced it would toughen its punishment for domestic violence, making first-time offenders subject to a six-week suspension while repeat offenders face a ban of a year or more.

On Monday, the NFL said it hadn't seen the latest video when it decided on the two-game suspension, though TMZ later reported that no one connected to the league asked Revel Hotel and Casino in Atlantic City for the video from inside the elevator.

The NFL denied that in a statement issued Tuesday:

"Security for Atlantic City casinos is handled by the New Jersey State Police. Any videos related to an ongoing criminal investigation are held in the custody of the state police. As we said yesterday: We requested from law enforcement any and all information about the incident, including the video from inside the elevator. That video was not made available to us."

Wife by Rice's side at news conference

Ray and Janay Rice were married a few weeks after the elevator incident, for which the football player was indicted by a grand jury on third-degree aggravated assault.

He was accepted into a diversion program, which upon completion could lead to the charges being expunged.

The two sat beside each other at a May media conference at which Janay Rice defended her husband by saying: "I do deeply regret the role I played in the incident that night. But I can say that I am happy that we continue to work through it together."

Rice dropped by Nike, EA Sports

Nike said Tuesday it has severed its business ties with Rice, and video game publisher Electronic Arts is removing Rice from its recently released Madden NFL 15 title.

The Ravens also said on Twitter on Tuesday that they're planning to offer an exchange for Rice jerseys.

With files from The Associated Press

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