December 1, 2014 / 5:03 PM / 3 years ago

Wife of NFL's Rice says he never hit her before casino fight

(Reuters) - Janay Rice, the wife of former Baltimore Ravens running back Ray Rice, insisted in an interview on NBC’s “Today” program that her husband had never hit her prior to their fight in a New Jersey casino elevator in February.

Former Baltimore Ravens NFL running back Ray Rice (R) and his wife Janay arrive for a hearing at a New York City office building November 5, 2014. REUTERS/Mike Segar

“There’s no way,” Palmer told NBC in an interview that aired Monday. “He knows what he would 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.”

Ray Rice’s one-punch knockout of Palmer, who was then his fiancée, put his NFL career in jeopardy and thrust the issue of domestic abuse into the national spotlight.

The first video of the fight that went viral in February showed Rice calmly pulling an unconscious Palmer from the elevator.

“He was in such shock that this had just happened, and he didn’t know how to function at that point,” said Palmer. “By that time hotel security is there. The police are there.”

NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell suspended Rice for two games, but after a second video emerged in September from inside the elevator showing the knockout punch, the Ravens released Rice and Goodell suspended him indefinitely from the league.

However, an independent arbitrator on Friday said that Rice, in essence, was sanctioned twice for the same crime and ruled he was free to sign with any National Football League team.

In her comments Monday, Palmer said “people are human” and are prone to lapses in judgment.

“Everybody makes mistakes,” she said. “You would think that we lived in a country of people who have never made a mistake, who’ve never sinned ever in their life.”

In the second part of the interview, which will air on Tuesday, Palmer said the Ravens gave her “a general script” when she and Ray Rice met with the media following the fight and she apologized.

“That was frustrating for me, because obviously people took it as, you know, I‘m taking light off of what Ray did,” she said. “In no way... He was wrong.”

“At the same time I didn’t think it was completely wrong for me to apologize, because at the end of the day I got arrested too, so I did something wrong too.”

While Rice is now free to join any club, it remains unclear if any team will sign the 27-year-old, three-time Pro Bowl running back.

Reporting by Steve Ginsburg; Editing by Susan Heavey

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