The Brutal Blow That Cost NFL Superstar Ray Rice His Job

The Ravens player's wife says she's standing by her man after video surfaces of Rice knocking her unconscious.
3:00 | 09/10/14

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Transcript for The Brutal Blow That Cost NFL Superstar Ray Rice His Job
It is the video engulching a football star, his wife and the entire NFL in an emotional controversy tonight. The surveillance camera capturing ray rice of the Baltimore ravens knocking his wife out in a hotel elevator. So, why is she standing by her husband and who is she blaming instead? Here's ABC's linsey Davis. Reporter: If dragging his fiance's limp body wasn't enough, this was the game-changer. Ray rice with a brutal blow to his now wife's head in this video released yesterday by TMZ of what happened inside the elevator between ray rice and his then-fiance Janay palmer. During this press conference, only they knew what really happened inside that elevator. I failed miser Bly, but I wouldn't call myself a failure. Because I'm working my way back up. We are continuing to strengthen our relationship and our marriage and do what we have to do. Reporter: For months, we'd only seen this grainy video of rice pulling palmer off this Atlantic City casino elevator on February 15th. And while we hadn't seen the moments leading up to it, the Atlantic City police summons state what we didn't see. That rice caused bodily injury to Janay palmer, specifically by striking her with his hand, rendering her unconscious. That same day, rice and palmer were both arrested, charged and released for what rice's attorney called a minor physical altercation. He never checked to see, is she okay? Is she breathing? Is she bleeding? Reporter: While palm earl indicated she did not want to go forward with prosecution, on March 27th, rice is indicted on aggravated assault charges. The charges against her were dropped. The very next day, on March 28th, rice and palmer married. On may 1st, rice pleads not guilty. And aflippplies for a program of first-time offenders that could clear him of charges in six months. Prosecutor must have evaluated that the injuries were not from serious bodily injury. Reporter: On may 23rd, we hear from rice for the first time since his arrest. I just wanted to thank her for doctor -- for loving me where I was weak. Reporter: Janay, sitting at his side, apologizes. I deeply regret the role I played in the incident that night. I love ray. Reporter: Some critics called the press conference a sham. That, to me, was one of many indications that the ravens did not understand anything about domestic violence. You have a woman who has been battered. Apologizing next to the man who has battered her and the optics of that were horrible. Reporter: On July 24th, the NFL announces the penalty for rice. A two-game suspension for domestic violence. There are consequences when you make a mistake like that. Reporter: A firestorm erupts were critics chastising the NFL for giving rice a lesser punishment than the six-game suspension imposed on players caught using banned substances. You can't have a league that has an over 40% female fan base and say to them that marijuana use is more important to us than domestic violence. Reporter: Then, on August 28th, the NFL calls an audible. The league commissioner announcing a new domestic violence policy, making the punishment for assault, battery, domestic violence or sexual assault a mandatory six-game suspension. And just yesterday, after the video came out, ray rice, the face of the Baltimore ravens, cut by the team and suspended from the NFL indefinitely. It's something we saw for the first time today. You know, all of us. And it changed things, of course. You know, it made things a little bit different. Reporter: This after TMZ released this video of what happened inside the elevator. Video the NFL claims they had never seen. But je Mel hill is not buying it. This is the same NFL that when players are drafted into this league, they know what kind of cereal they have for br breakfast. So, you mean to tell me that the NFL couldn't exercise more influence than TMZ? Reporter: But the atlantic county prosecutor's office corroborates the story, telling ABC news it is grand jury material. It would have been improper, in, illegal, to provide it to an outside, private, nonlaw enforcement entity. It sounded bad. The stories were bad. But it took the video to make everyone aware of just how awful it was. Reporter: Uproar about the video prompted rice's wife to break her silence this morning, via instagram, posting a message saying she woke up feeling like "I'm mourning the death of my closest friend." She goes on to blame the immediamedia. She ends by saying they will continue to grow and show the world what real love is. We always want to talk about relationships, they are based on dignity and respect and there was -- that was not presence, neither of those things were present in that relationship. Reporter: According to Katie ray Jones, victims often do love the abuser and focus on the fact that they aren't violent all the time. Many women still see that man they fell in love with. On a regular basis. He's not abusive all the time. And there are moments where he is telling her he's going to change and things are going to be different. Reporter: Proof that what happened on this elevator is much more than a sports story. After all, we've seen this story before with others in the public eye. There was Taylor Armstrong, living in apparently perfect life as one of the housewives of Beverly hills. Behind the scenes, she admitted she had been hiding a secret. I was trapped in a physically abusive relationship. Reporter: These photos show the wounds she says she received from her then-husband, Russell Armstrong, who committed suicide soon after she filed for divorce. In my own personal case, it starts with yelling and you get grabbed by the throat or shoved down and it just escalates. Reporter: Armstrong says no one should be rushing to judge Janay palmer. To be a victim is something that unless you've been through it yourself, there's no way you can relate to the feeling and to the back and forth and the roller coaster ride. I just -- would hope that someone that's close to her can lead her to someone who can help her make a smart decision for her and her family. Reporter: Domestic violence. But perhaps yesterday's about face shows the football league will no longer allow its players to get off easy. But hill argues, rice may still find a home in the NFL. There are players who have killed people that are in the NFL. That have played in the NFL. At this point, it would be impossible to rule out a future in the NFL for him, because as awful and horrible as this was, he's not the only player in the NFL playing right now that assaulted his partner or wife. Reporter: But for now, arguably one of the league's best running backs, sidelines. And not because he had a physical altercation wit his wife, but because there's video of it. I'm so hopeful that this shows everybody what domestic violence really is. And I'm so hopeful this wakes people up. Reporter: For "Nightline," I'm linsey Davis in New York.

This transcript has been automatically generated and may not be 100% accurate.

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