Former Baltimore Ravens running back Ray Rice won his appeal and his indefinite suspension was immediately lifted, Judge Barbara S. Jones announced on Friday. Judge Jones added that Rice "did not mislead the Commissioner and that "I find that the imposition of the indefinite suspension was arbitrary."
"This decision is a victory for a disciplinary process that is fair and transparent," the NFLPA said in a statement. "This union will always stand up and fight for the due process of our players. We take no pleasure in seeing a decision that confirms what we have been saying about the Commissioner's office acting arbitrarily. The only remaining action is for NFL owners to embrace a fair process with a neutral arbitrator in all cases. The players thank Judge Barbara Jones for her time and thoroughness in this matter."
Rice and his fiancee, Janay Palmer, were arrested and charged with assault after a confrontation at the Revel Casino in Atlantic City. A grand jury originally indicted Rice on third-degree aggravated assault, but Rice avoided trial by entering a pretrial diversion program in May. Once that program was completed, the NFL hit Rice with a two-game suspension... and that was that.
Then TMZ released the video (that video) in early Sept, showing Rice physically assaulting Palmer. Because his actions initially only warranted a two-game suspension, Goodell faced serious blowback from the public for an extremely weak response. Eventually the NFL commissioner changed his mind and slammed Rice with an indefinite suspension, which the NFLPA had an issue with. The NFL claims to have never seen the video... and only the NFL might actually believe that.
The NFL acknowledged Judge Jones' decision.
"We respect Judge Jones’s decision to reinstate Ray Rice from his indefinite suspension for violating the league’s Personal Conduct Policy in an incident of domestic violence," the NFL stated. "Ray Rice is a free agent and has been eligible to be signed by an NFL team since he was released by the Ravens. Based on Judge Jones’ decision, he will be eligible to play upon signing a new contract."
Rice issued his own statement through the NFL Players Association.
"I would like to thank Judge Barbara Jones, the NFL Players Association, my attorneys, agents, advisors, family, friends and fans - but most importantly, my wife Janay. I made an inexcusable mistake and accept full responsibility for my actions. I am thankful that there was a proper appeals process in place to address this issue. I will continue working hard to improve myself and be the best husband, father and friend, while giving back to my community and helping others to learn from my mistakes."