Ten days away from the launch of free agency, Ray Rice remains "optimistic" that his NFL career will go on.
"I'm optimistic that I'll get a second chance," Rice said. "I don't think this boils down to whether I can play football or not. Obviously I know that. I just think there's so much more that comes with it. I know the PR side of it will be tough. I understand that. I just know that if a team that really truly genuinely looks at me and understood that this guy made a horrible mistake then they can structure a plan for me."
Said Rice: "I don't like to be singled out, I like to be part of the team, if they can understand that I'll do anything to help the situation and go out and give them the best football I got, I think I'll get a second chance."
Rice was suspended by the NFL at the beginning of last season after video footage surfaced of him striking his then-fiancée -- and now wife -- Janay Palmer, in an Atlantic City elevator.
The 28-year-old Rice was reinstated in November when Judge Barbara S. Jones ruled that he did not mislead Commissioner Roger Goodell, and therefore, should not have been disciplined beyond his initial two-game suspension.
Asked what he would tell interested teams, Rice promised to "own my mistake."
"I would let them know all the steps I've done to become a better person and not figure everything out like I was perfect," Rice said. "I would tell them about my counseling. I would tell them about my wife. I can't buy my wife, no matter what. I've known her since high school. There was no money that was going to appease her. If this was that bad of a situation, then my wife wouldn't be with me and I know that and that would have crushed me more than losing football. I would just reassure them that the person that created this, that committed that horrible act of violence that's not the person, that's not who I am."
In a deep free-agent market for running backs, teams are likely to look elsewhere, but Rice believes he can still play. Revealing to The Sun that he quietly battled through a torn quadriceps in 2013, Rice billed himself today as a back who "can play all three downs."
"It's safe to say I would play for anybody right now," Rice said. "I know Baltimore wouldn't like it, but I would play for anybody right now. You think about the applause and I played in front of 70,000 people. I just want to play for pride now. I want to win the respect of a locker room. I want to show these guys that no matter what they got somebody in their corner that's going to be there for him."