Ray Rice explains he wasn’t disrespecting Steelers or Terrible Towel

After the Ravens’ win over the Steelers on Sunday, Ray Rice created a bit of a firestorm when pictures surfaced of him walking to the locker room with a Terrible Towel draped over his head.

One such photo can be found here.

Steelers players and fans took it as if Rice was taunting them, disrespecting the yellow towel which is a mainstay among crowds at Pittsburgh’s home games.

Rice said that wasn’t it at all, and it was just the opposite.

“It was pretty interesting if you want to hear the whole gesture, how it happened,” Rice said Wednesdsay. “I actually asked a fan to trade - like I’ve been trading jerseys with guys at the end of the game. A fan traded me my gloves for the towel. So, I didn’t stomp it or do anything wrong. I actually walked out with it and I think I’m going to save it and put it in my basement to cherish the rivalry.

“It’s not like you get out there and do derogatory stuff and spit - no, none of that stuff. If you think about it, where I’m at in my career, you cherish these rivalries, cherish the moments. I apologize to those who saw it as disrespectful. For me, I thought it was a pretty cool gesture, exchanging my gloves with a fan and walking out with it.

“But obviously, getting a victory there was cool, and I leave it in the past. I don’t know, should I be worried about a bounty alert or something?” he said jokingly. “No, I don’t think they’re going that far. Their fans are great, the organization is great, and the rivalry is always going to continue to be great. But to have something in your basement to know what the rivalry is all about is pretty cool. I’ve been exchanging jerseys with guys and everything is becoming - my basement is getting pretty colorful down there with others teams’ stuff. (Wearing the towel was) not maliciously, just more out of respect.”

But it wasn’t as if Rice was unaware of the negative response to the gesture. He heard soon after just how much those connected to the Steelers felt about it.

“Oh, the other side, they don’t really like it, which I understand why - like, ‘Nobody plays with the Terrible Towel’ - and I understand that,” Rice said. “I respect this rivalry, I respect their organization, I respect everything about it, but like I said, it’s not like you’re going to catch me on YouTube burning a Terrible Towel.

“Like I said, I’ll keep it in my basement, and when I get to grow up and my time is done, you get to look back on these moments, ‘You know, I got to play against the Pittsburgh Steelers at Heinz (Field) and the history that’s there. I got to do different things.’ So this has actually been the first year I’ve started to collect other teams’ stuff. I got a couple jerseys from guys, and it’s quite the rivalry.”