Ray Rice arrived Thursday morning to court holding wife Jenay Palmer's hand and pleaded not guilty to assaulting her earlier this year in an Atlantic City casino.
In February, the Baltimore Ravens running back was caught on security camera footage dragging his then-fiancee Palmer's body out of an elevator. They have since married despite the Super Bowl champion being charged with third-degree aggravated assault.
He was indicted the day before their wedding for knocking her unconscious and pulling her around like a rag doll.
The not guilty plea came despite prosecutors offering Rice a plea deal that would not involve him serving jail time, reported the Baltimore Sun.
First time offenders in New Jersey are also permitted to enter a diversionary program that would allow him to avoid further court appearances and keep his record clean, the former Rutgers star's legal team said.
Rice spent hours filling out the paperwork to enter the program despite not yet being given the green light by prosecutors, said the Sun. Their approval is needed to go that route.
He was offered probation an court mandated anger management in his plea deal, and prosecutors did not signal to the paper whether they would allow him to take part in the diversionary program.
"There are guidelines which suggest a crime of violence may be rejected if the prosecutors doesn't consent to the application," an official said, adding that the offer already made is "consistent with other plea offers in similar cases."
Rice's attorney's plan to appeal if he is not allowed into the program.
The Ravens also released a statement backing their player, which read: "We know there is more to Ray Rice than this one incident."
Team owner Steve Bisciotti added that Rice, who in 2012 signed a five-year $35 million contract with the Ravens, will continue to have a future in Baltimore.