Ray Rice won the appeal of his indefinite suspension from the NFL Friday. As a result, the former Ravens running back was immediately reinstated in the league, and is eligible to sign with a team.
Rice was suspended indefinitely after the infamous video of him punching out his then-fiancee in an Atlantic City elevator was made public. Former U.S. District Judge Barbara Jones ruled that Rice did not lie to the NFL. Therefore, she reasoned, the league was out of bounds in handing Rice a suspension on top of the first punishment that was meted out over the summer. According to the ruling, Jones called the NFL’s actions an “abuse of discretion.”
Jones specifically called out league officials for not fully matching the initial punishment to the seriousness of the events in the elevator, which were known even before the video came out:
“Moreover, any failure on the part of the League to understand the level of violence was not due to Rice’s description of the event but to the inadequacy of words to convey the seriousness of domestic violence. That the League did not realize the severity of the conduct without a visual record also speaks to their admitted failure in the past to sanction this type of conduct more severely.”
The NFL Players Association released a statement on behalf of Rice:
“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.”
Rice is currently without a team because he was released by the Ravens at the same time the suspension came down. ESPN released an interview with Janay Rice right after the ruling came out in which she talks about how shocked she was that the team released him.
“I was extremely surprised and angry that the Ravens released him, because they know him. They were our family, but I felt like the Ravens completely disregarded the past six years with him. Anytime the Ravens needed someone for a community event, Ray was their man. It seemed like a knee-jerk reaction for publicity reasons. He was very close to Baltimore Ravens owner Steve Bisciotti and general manager Ozzie Newsome. Ozzie would always say, “Ray’s my guy,” because Ray was Ozzie’s pick. I know that Bisciotti loves Ray, even to this day.”