Former Baltimore Ravens running back Ray Rice will appeal his indefinite suspension, but reportedly is asking for commissioner Roger Goodell to recuse himself from the review.
Goodell, who said Rice’s version of events was “ambiguous” when the parties met prior to an initial suspension, turned over the New Orleans Saints bounty-related suspensions to former commissioner Paul Tagliabue.
The league reversed course banned Rice indefinitely last week, the same day the Ravens released Rice as video surfaced showing him punching and knocking out his then-fiancee, Janay, in February at an Atlantic City hotel. Janay Rice blasted media for releasing the video. She and Rice were married and have actively engaged in counseling, Ray Rice told media in May.
The NFLPA, which received formal notice from the NFL office on Friday that Rice is indefinitely suspended, has until Tuesday to formally respond to the suspension and plans to make it official with a visit to the team facility in Owings Mills underway. The union plans to fight the ban but it is unknown whom will be appointed to hear the argument.
Goodell has come under fire for suspending Rice for only two games in July and then reversing field. The commissioner has disciplinary autonomy under the terms of the league’s collective bargaining agreement to issue punishment.
Goodell apologized in changing the NFL punishment parameters recently, telling owners and fans in a memorandum that “we didn’t get it right” with Rice.
His claim that the NFL office did not see the video, including the punch inside the elevator until this week is being challenged. Ravens officials have made the same claim.
Unnamed sources allege the video was sent to the NFL office in April. Goodell, Ravens head coach John Harbaugh, team owner Steve Bisciotti and general manager Ozzie Newsome all insist they did not see the video until TMZ released it last Monday.
Rice initially was suspended two games after he was charged with assault and a video showed Rice dragging Janay out of an elevator. However, another video of the incident obtained by TMZ showed Rice punching her in the face. The hit knocked the woman unconscious.
Lawyers have reportedly told the Rice family that they will attempt to recoup his $4 million salary lost for this season and beyond the initial fine he was facing from the first suspension — which was a total of three game checks. They would also seek to have Rice reinstated after the Super Bowl.
The lawyers also reportedly would use wide receiver Donte’ Stallworth’s suspension involving a vehicular manslaughter case as a precedent. Stallworth was reinstated after one year.
The NFL launched an independent investigation into whether the video had actually been seen by the commissioner’s office. Attorneys for Rice were quick to point out that the video has been in existence since February and that the NFL and the Ravens had access to police reports and the video. Additionally, Rice detailed the entire incident to Harbaugh and Newsome, as well as the commissioner in a meeting in June.
While Goodell cited ambiguity in Rice’s description of the incident, for which Rice avoided jail time because of a plea deal including a pretrial diversion program, Newsome said Rice did not lie to the team.
Goodell said he did not see the video or know about it until last week when it became public.
NFLPA officials believe that the collective bargaining agreement limits the league from imposing two penalties for the same transgression, essentially making a “double jeopardy” argument.