Ray Rice Could Be Back In The N.F.L. Before The Season Is Over

ray-rice-janay-rice

CBS Sports reports that it is possible that Ray Rice, the former Baltimore Ravens Running Back who was released by the team and indefinitely suspended by the N.F.L. after additional details of the February incident where he severely beat his now wife in an elevator, could be back in uniform before the end of the season:

Former Ravens running back Ray Rice remains suspended indefinitely following the publication of the video of him striking his now-wife, Janay, in a casino elevator, but he could be reinstated within the next four weeks, sources said.

An appeal hearing date has been set, with a final decision expected to come in an expeditious manner thereafter, and all of that could be resolved by mid-November, which would conceivably allow Rice to sign with another team this season.

Perhaps, even if reinstated, teams will find him too controversial to sign, but there is every expectation his playing status will be resolved before the NFL’s investigation into its handling of his case, being conducted by former FBI chief Robert Mueller, is completed.

Former U.S. District Court Judge Barbara S. Jones is handling the appeal as a neutral, third-party arbitrator, and all sides in the case have agreed to a date to conduct the hearing in the near future. That date could change somewhat based on what Jones rules this week on some requests the NFLPA made to have certain materials available to them in discovery, but sources said Rice’s legal team has made it explicitly clear it has no desire to wait until the NFL and the NFLPA’s investigations are concluded to resolve the matter of this suspension appeal.

Rice has maintained he did not lie in his testimony to Commissioner Roger Goodell, and his legal team will make the case that even under the NFL’s new domestic violence policy, and as a first-time offender, Rice should be suspended a maximum of six games, which has already passed. Furthermore, they will make the argument that the video tape of Rice’s actions were available to the team and the league throughout the process of determining his discipline, and thus nothing changed whatsoever with the case from the time Rice was suspended two games, until eventually being suspended indefinitely, save for TMZ obtaining and posting the video.

Rice winning his appeal would obviously be a public relations problem for the league, because it would essentially confirm that Goodell and others were in fact aware of the details of what happened in February before the full video was released earlier this season and that Rice’s initial two-game suspension was made with that knowledge in hand in some respect even if the league didn’t have a copy of the tape. Beyond that, though, the league’s problems would seemingly be magnified if any team ended up signing Rice to a contract in the event he is reinstated. The linked article mentions the Colts, where former Ravens coach Chuck Pagano is Head Coach, and the Patriots, but I honestly have to wonder whether any team, especially one that’s in playoff contention would be willing to take on the controversy and media attention that would be involved in bringing Rice back to the N.F.L. I suppose it’s possible, especially if there’s a team that’s hurting for a Running Back, but it strikes me that the attention would be a huge diversion from on field activities that most teams would prefer to avoid.

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Doug Mataconis
About Doug Mataconis
Doug holds a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May 2010. Before joining OTB, he wrote at Below The BeltwayThe Liberty Papers, and United Liberty Follow Doug on Twitter | Facebook

Comments

  1. OzarkHillbilly says:

    Rice winning his appeal would obviously be a public relations problem for the league, because it would essentially confirm that Goodell and others were in fact aware of the details of what happened in February before the full video was released earlier this season and that Rice’s initial two-game suspension was made with that knowledge in hand in some respect even if the league didn’t have a copy of the tape. Rice’s wholly illegal and arbitrary suspension was for embarrassing Roger Goodell.

    FTFY Doug. On the slightly more serious side, any team that signs Rice won’t take much of a hit in the football viewing demographic. Sure they will be pilloried in the press and the Sunday morning talking heads will have a field day, but once the teams have their day in the field, the Sunday afternoon talking heads will be expounding about the genius of the team that signed him when he runs for 100+ yards, or the knuckleheaded OC who is misusing him, or what a waste of money and embarrassment to the team this over the hill running back is.

  2. James Joyner says:

    While I fully understand it from a PR standpoint, I’m in agreement with @OzarkHillbilly that Goodell doesn’t have the authority to suspend Rice indefinitely under the CBA. The Ravens had the right to cut him, of course, but other teams would be stumbling all over themselves to sign him if not for the suspension.

  3. @James Joyner:

    I think that interpretation of the CBA is probably correct, especially given the fact that punishment, albeit inadequate in the eyes of many, had already been meted out. And perhaps you’re both right that the market for Rice will be better than I’m anticipating. Even so, though, it will obviously bring back all the coverage we saw in September when this story first broke. Some team may find it worth the trouble to ride out that media storm if it helps in the run up to the playoffs.

  4. legion says:

    Obviously, we all only know what’s been in the open press about this, but:

    Rice has maintained he did not lie in his testimony to Commissioner Roger Goodell, and his legal team will make the case that even under the NFL’s new domestic violence policy, and as a first-time offender, Rice should be suspended a maximum of six games, which has already passed.

    Given all of this, he’s actually got a pretty reasonable argument. Rice may be an abusive POS, but Goodell screwed this up about as badly as it could possibly be screwed. It very much looks like he willfully lied to the public at every single possible opportunity, and based his disciplinary actions entirely on public outcry rather than any actual rules. Based on that, it looks not only like Rice could win this hearing, but that he and/or the NFLPA may have a viable civil suit against Goodell that could cost the NFL plenty. They really need to fire his incompetent ass ASAP.

  5. al-Ameda says:

    This will be similar to the NBA’s Sprewell story of about 15 years ago. There will probably be at least one team out of 30 that will sign him.

  6. James Pearce says:

    @legion:

    It very much looks like he willfully lied to the public at every single possible opportunity, and based his disciplinary actions entirely on public outcry rather than any actual rules.

    It warms the cockles of my dark heart to hear the argument that Goodell should be fired for being too harsh on Ray Rice. I can’t say that I agree –I can’t think of a reason why it should be Goodell who should be fired– but I appreciate the unconventional take.

  7. legion says:

    @James Pearce: It’s not that he was “too harsh” on Rice – IMHO Rice ought to be in jail, period. The problem is that Goodell actively swept it under the rug for months and then, once it was forced into the light of day, may have broken the NFL’s own rules on how to deal with it. Rice committed a serious criminal assault, and he ought to pay the price for that – jail time. Goodell has put the NFL into potential liability for many millions of $$ in court cases for lying so damn much. The proper price for that is being fired for incompetence.

  8. bill says:

    sure ray rice is a pos, even though his girl actually came at him – and if woman and men are “equal” then it was just a case of self defense- right? just because he’s stronger does it mean that it’s open season for “weaker” people to attack him and get off scot free if he wins the fight? of course that’s nonsense.
    and i always wondered how goodell became the scapegoat in all of this, just because the league employs overly violent people to entertain us and such- is he the warden to this insanity or do any of the people involved actually bear responsibility for their actions, on/off the field? what is the root of this domestic abuse, the sport or the person?

    @al-Ameda: the cowboys will take him, they seem to have a “get out of jail free” card since they signed michael sam to the practice squad!

  9. Tyrell says:

    I still don’t understand all the jumping, piling, and digging on the NFL. Think about it. The NHL: players hitting each other with sticks, knocking players into the boards, fighting (gets you a 5 minute rest break). And of course our friends at the WWE: hitting each other with chairs, throwing tables, even using barbed wire.

  10. Just 'nutha' ig'rant cracker says:

    @OzarkHillbilly: You beat me to it. I was going to ask if the part of the quote you “edited” was even a question any more.