NFL running back Ray Rice’s suspension has been lifted after the star won his appeal in response to a domestic incident that took place with his then-fiance Janay Rice earlier this year.
In a decision that sharply repudiates the NFL’s handling of the Ray Rice matter and raises serious questions about the competency of NFL legal investigations, former U.S. District Judge Barbara Jones has ruled that the NFL wrongly suspended Rice twice for the same misconduct. The 27-year-old Rice, who was released by the Baltimore Ravens in September, is now eligible to sign with any team as a free agent.
Rice’s main argument was that the league violated Article 46 of the collective bargaining agreement, specifically, the “One Penalty” rule which forbids double punishment for the same act of conduct.
The double punishment dates back to a meeting that Rice had with Goodell in June. In that meeting they talked about the Feb. 15 incident, that led to Rice’s arrest for assaulting his now wife Janay Rice. In May, he was sentenced to a pre-intervention program that carried no jail time. In July, Goodell was suspended for two games. He was suspended again indefinitely in September, after video of Rice punching and dragging Palmer in a hotel elevator went public.
Representatives for Rice argued that Goodell knew all along exactly what took place in the elevator well before the video was released. The Associated Press also reported that the NFL was in possession of the video as early as April, a direct counter to Goodell’s claims that he had never seen the footage.
The NFL has the option of appealing the decision to reinstate Rice, but likely will not seek to. At least four NFL teams have expressed interest in Rice joining their squad
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