John Harbaugh was right, Ray Rice's press conference wasn't polished. But nobody watching it wanted it to be something that felt rehearsed.
He hit some key points, telling reporters in attendance at his press conference that, "I let my wife down, I let my daughter down. I let my wife's parents down. I let the whole Baltimore community down."
He said his wife, Janay Rice, who he assaulted and knocked unconscious in an elevator at Revel Casino in Atlantic City, N.J., "can do wrong, she's an angel." He also acknowledged how tough it will be to tell his daughter Rayven, who is just 2 years old, what exactly happened once she becomes of age to understand.
The one area he never ventured, however, was what exactly happened in the elevator. He didn't want to relive those 30 seconds, saying it would do no one any good. Deciding not to go there could be perceived in different ways. Critics and cynics will say he's once again avoiding the matter, that he doesn't want to utter that he punched his wife because it makes what happened even more real than it already is.
Others may say what happened inside the elevator is no one's business considering we know the aftermath, and that Rice is doing his part to take responsibility for what happened.
Rice added this is the only time he has been in a domestic violence situation, saying he's never laid his hands on his wife before and won't ever again. "When the time is right," he said, he and Janay will reach out to domestic abuse groups and do what they can to help. He condemned what he did, said he's continuing to work on fixing himself through counseling, and wants to move forward.
"It's not right, it shouldn't be tolerated," Rice said.
This was a good start for Rice. The apology at least seemed to be coming from a positive place inside of him. That's all you can ask for at a press conference. But even so, this doesn't, and shouldn't, end here. When the time is right for him, he has to partake in helping domestic abuse victims. He has to help donate and raise money to these organizations, giving them assistance when he has the time and when he's needed.
As he said, the pain of a two-game suspension and fine doesn't come close to equaling what he, Janay and Rayven will have to endure the rest of their lives. There will be people, NFL fans and the general population, that will never forgive Rice for what happened. They'll never look at him the same way and their reasoning can be justified.
But at least Rice said that those thoughts are due to what he did in Atlantic City. No matter what began the incident in that elevator, Rice was responsible for the aftermath. After a blown press conference with his wife sitting by him earlier this offseason, something Rice admitted as "awkward" on Thursday, Rice took the first needed step toward making it right.
But there's still a lot for Rice to do, which Rice acknowledged, before it is made right.