By Steve Ginsburg
(Reuters) - The wife of embattled former Baltimore Ravens running back Ray Rice defended her husband on Tuesday and criticized the media for its handling of their domestic violence incident.
"I woke up this morning, feeling like I had a horrible nightmare, feeling like I'm mourning the death of my closest friend," Janay Rice wrote in an Instagram post. "But to have to accept the fact that it's reality is a nightmare itself."
Ray Rice, 27, who had been one of the top running backs in the National Football League, was released by the Ravens on Monday and suspended indefinitely by the NFL after video surfaced showing him punching Janay, then his fiancée, and knocking her out in the elevator of a New jersey casino in February.
The video, which went viral when it surfaced on Monday, shook the NFL and even prompted a statement from the White House on domestic violence.
Earlier video of the incident showed Rice dragging an unconscious Janay from the elevator and in July he was suspended for two games by the league and fined $500,000.
But after video surfaced on Monday of him punching Janay inside the elevator, her head hitting a rail before she crumpled to the floor, Rice was cut from the team and suspended indefinitely by the NFL.
"No one knows the pain that the media & unwanted options (sic) from the public has (sic) caused my family," Janay Rice wrote on Instagram. "To make us relive a moment in our lives that we regret everyday is a horrible thing."
The NFL said it had not seen the new video until Monday, when it was released by the website TMZ. But TMZ said on Tuesday sources "connected" with the Revel Hotel and Casino said no one from the NFL asked for the video from inside the elevator.
NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell admitted he "didn't get it right" when he initially suspended Rice for two games and has strengthened the sanctions for NFL players who commit domestic violence.
Janay Rice, who married Ray Rice shortly after the casino incident, accused the media of using the episode to "gain ratings."
"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," she wrote. "Just know we will continue to grow & show the world what real love is! Ravensnation we love you!"
Rice was indicted by a grand jury in March on third-degree aggravated assault but the charge was dropped because Janay declined to testify against him. He agreed to court-supervised counseling.
Rice had his worst NFL season last year and it remained unclear if he will ever play again.
New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft told "CBS This Morning" on Tuesday anyone who saw the video would be "outraged and really disgusted."
He praised Goodell's handling of the situation, saying the commissioner had no knowledge of the second video before its release Monday, and for setting a clear policy of proper conduct in the NFL.
"Anyone who is second guessing that, doesn't know him," he said.
White House spokesman Josh Earnest said President Barack Obama "believes that domestic violence is contemptible and unacceptable in a civilized society."
(Editing by Bill Trott)