The saga of former Baltimore Ravens running back Ray Rice started all the way back in February after the infamous elevator incident at Revel Casino in Atlantic City where Rice is shown striking his wife, then-fiancee Janay Palmer, knocking her down and subsequently dragging her out of the elevator.
Throughout the course of the last eight months, Rice’s reputation has plummeted to 1929 Stock Market Crash levels. Not only has Rice’s character seemed to have gone down the toilet, but he is still entrenched in a bitter feud with NFL commissioner Roger Goodell due to the mishandling of the situation by Goodell and the rest of the league. For months, Goodell had vehemently denied that the NFL had access to the video, but a July MMQB article clearly disputed that notion.
The incident has extensively been covered already, but now that a decision has been rendered, it does not paint the league in an aesthetically pleasing color.
Here’s what you need to know:
1. Rice Was Indicted, Rejected a Plea Deal & Applied for Program
Here are a few key spring dates in regards to Rice’s legal situation:
March 27: Rice was indicted by a grand jury and his charges were upped to “aggravated assault,” which, at the time, carried a maximum sentence of five years in prison. Rice married his fiancee the next day.
May 1: Rice rejected a plea offer, hoping for a lesser sentence, which would entail completing probation and undergoing anger management.
May 21: Rice was accepted into a program, which was an unusually rare occurrence based on New Jersey judicial data.
2. Goodell Met With Rice Over the Summer & Suspended Him for 2 Games
After a disciplinary hearing over the summer, on July 24 Goodell suspended Rice for the first two games of 2014, which was a controversial decision at the time.
One week later, Goodell, for the first time since acting, spoke publicly about Rice and extensively defended the decision:
“Our policy is clear on this. We have a very firm policy that domestic violence is not acceptable in the NFL and that there will be consequences for that. “When we’re going through the process of evaluating the issue and whether there will be discipline, you look at all of the facts that you have available to us. Law enforcement normally has more – on a normal basis – has more information, facts, than we have. We’ll get as much as we possibly can. And then you also have the opportunity to sit down with the individual, and maybe others, to determine how that individual is reacting to it.
I think what’s important here is that Ray is being accountable for it. He recognizes he made a horrible mistake and he knows what he did is unacceptable by his standards and by our standards. I was also very impressed with Ray in the sense that Ray is not only accepting this issue but he’s saying, ‘I was wrong.’ I want to see people, when they make a mistake, I want to see them take responsibility and be accountable for it.”
3. The Entire Video Surfaced in Early September, Forcing Goodell & the Ravens to Act Quickly
On September 8, TMZ released the entire surveillance footage from inside the elevator, which immediately sent the nation into a frenzy. What the video showed was reprehensible, and far worse than anybody had first imagined. Hours later, the Ravens terminate Rice’s contract. Two weeks later, Ravens owner Steve Bisciotti held a press conference addressing question in direct response to an ESPN story.
In response to the video, Goodell announced that Rice had been suspended indefinitely effective immediately. This is also when the league claimed that it had not seen the video from the elevator’s interior until it was released by TMZ, although multiple sources confirmed that the league had received the video from law enforcement all the way back in April.
Two days later, the NFL confirmed that it would hire former FBI Director Robert Mueller to lead an impending investigation.
4. The NFL Players’ Union Filed an Appeal of Goodell’s Second Suspension
On September 16, Ray Rice announced that he would appeal Goodell’s suspension. The NFL Players Association’s lawyers represented Rice in the appeal.
It was then revealed that former U.S. District Judge Barbara Jones, a neutral arbitrator, would preside over Rice’s indefinite suspension appeal hearing in New York. On November 5-6, the hearing went on as scheduled and Goodell testified for over two hours.
5. Rice Won His Appeal & Had His Suspension Overturned
Judge Jones overturned Rice’s indefinite suspension from the NFL, ruling that the disgraced running back did not mislead Commissioner Roger Goodell, who made an “arbitrary” decision to increase Rice’s suspension from two games based on no new evidence.
It is no doubt a huge blow for Goodell, and criticism of the commissioner’s mishandling of the entire situation will only get louder in response to this situation’s conclusion. The NFLPA has already released a statement in response to the ruling.
In response to the ruling, Rice released a statement:
I would like to thank Judge Barbara Jones, the NFL Players Association, my attorneys, agents, advisers, 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.