Pro football running back, Ray Rice, formerly of the Baltimore Ravens, wins his appeal against an indefinite suspension and has been reinstated into the National Football League (NFL). The free agent is now cleared to sign with any team. He was originally given a two game suspension by the NFL. That suspension was later increased to an indefinite suspension after the league determined that Rice violated its personal conduct policy upon viewing secondary video footage of Rice violently striking his current wife Janay (Palmer) in a hotel elevator.
Security staff that responded to the scene where the events took place claimed that Rice tried to reduce the severity of the incident by stating Janay simply had too much to drink and was intoxicated. When she finally did regain consciousness she perplexedly asked Rice, “How could you do this…? I’m the mother of your [child].” With Janay still dazed, Rice was said to have then dialed someone on his cell phone and tell that person that he was going to be arrested. Authorities arrived approximately 15 minutes later.
In an interview with ESPN’s Jemele Hill, Janay gives her account of the events leading to Rice’s arrest for domestic assault at the now defunct Revel Hotel Casino. According to Janay, “…the two of us were just off [since the morning of the incident]. We weren’t even in Atlantic City yet, but nothing seemed to be going right.”
While in Atlantic City, there was drinking and bickering back and forth between her and Ray, but it was too insignificant to remember what the bickering was about. She does recall grabbing at Ray’s cell phone after he took it out to talk on it at a late-night restaurant. As a result of her actions, he spit on her and she slapped him in front of six the guests sitting at their table.
One thing lead to another, but Janay does not remember the scene that was caught on video while she and Ray were inside the elevator, nor does she ever intend to view that graphic video footage. According to Janay, “ We got [onto] the elevator and what happened…is foggy to me…I only know what Ray…told me…I slapped him and then he hit me…[and] the next thing I do [remember] is being in the casino lobby, surrounded by [the police].”
During the star athlete’s primary domestic assault disciplinary hearing with the NFL on June 16, both he and his then fiancée Janay testified. Originally, NFL Commissioner Rodger Goodall suspended Rice for two games, which drew floods of negative attention from groups and individuals who advocate against domestic abuse–especially after the second video, which showed Rice violently hitting his fiancée and then dragging her unconscious body out into a hotel hallway went viral. The question as to whether the NFL had possession of the second video before making its original decision of a two game suspension against the super star running back remains unanswered.
There was tremendous pressure on the NFL to provide a harsher sentencing. Critic Steve Rich, co-host and co-producer of the Locker Room Picks Radio Show, was appalled by the NFL’s original decision of a two game suspension.
The NFL suspends its players four games for smoking illegal substances or sneaking performance drugs, but knock out your fiancée and only get two games. “[Let us] get serious and give [these] violent criminals [exactly] what they deserve…it has to be done! Violators need a serious suspension…and counseling [because] had [Rice] been taught not to hit [a woman] no matter what, he wouldn’t have to think about [the right thing] to do…”
On Sept 8, 2014 the NFL re-evaluated the original suspension handed down to Rice. This time emphasis was placed on the elevator video after it went public. Now Rice, 27, was re-sentenced indefinitely for violating its personal conduct policy. The Ravens also immediately released him from the team after the NFL ruling. Rice lost endorsements and has been out of the league completely ever since. Janay blamed outside opinions and the media for her husband’s indefinite suspension.
Reports from USA Today state the NFL Player’s Union believes the Ray was subjected to double jeopardy. According to the union, the decision to suspend the former Raven indefinitely was based on the exact same evidence despite the release of second video. The NFL however reported the secondary video was new evidence and adjusted its ruling accordingly.
Rice had little choice other than to appeal the NFL’s decision against him. On Nov. 5 in New York, Ray Rice and wife Janay appeared at a hearing to argue the indefinite suspension from the NFL. After days of evaluating deliberations from the case, Rice on Nov 28, 2014 wins his case and was reinstated into the NFL. The Honorable Barbara S. Jones, U.S. District Judge, who heard the appeal earlier this month, ruled that Rice told the truth about the Feb 15 domestic abuse incident that occurred between he and his wife Janay and he did not deceive the NFL.
The three-time NFL Pro Bowler helped Baltimore win the Super Bowl in 2013. He rushed for 37 touchdowns and 6,180 yards for the Ravens over six seasons.
After winning the appeal against the NFL, Rice is now eligible to play immediately. The NFL front office has acknowledged the ruling and accepts it as binding. It is not likely they will pursue further action against Rice. Although he won the fight, he has not won the war. The challenge for the seven-year pro now is finding companies willing to take a risk on offering endorsements and perhaps more importantly, finding an NFL team interested in signing him to an active roster.
By D’wayne Stanelli