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Former Baltimore Ravens running back Ray Rice has won his appeal of an indefinite suspension and has been reinstated to the NFL.

Rice is now eligible to sign with any NFL team.

Running back Ray Rice is eligible to sign with any NFL team after winning an appeal of his indefinite suspension.

U.S. District Judge Barbara S. Jones, who heard Rice’s appeal earlier this month, concluded in her decision, which was obtained by ESPN investigative reporter Don Van Natta Jr., that Rice did not lie or mislead NFL commissioner Roger Goodell.

“In so holding, I find that the NFLPA carried its burden of showing that Rice did not mislead the Commissioner at the June 16th meeting, and therefore, that the imposition of a second suspension based on the same incident and the same known facts about the incident, was arbitrary,” Jones’ decision stated.

“[T]he Commissioner needed to be fair and consistent in his imposition of discipline.

“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.”

An NFL spokesman, when asked by ESPN’s Andrew Brandt if the league would pursue any further action against Rice, said: “We, of course, accept the ruling as binding.”

Whether Rice is entitled to back pay for game checks he missed during his suspension will be determined in a separate proceeding through the grievance filed against the Ravens by the NFLPA on behalf of Rice.

Rice was suspended indefinitely Sept. 8 for violating the NFL’s personal conduct policy after a video of him hitting his then-fiancée was released publicly.


Goodell originally had suspended the running back for two games.The incident occurred in February inside an elevator at an Atlantic City, New Jersey, casino.

Ravens general manager Ozzie Newsome testified under oath Nov. 6 in the appeal hearing that he heard the former Baltimore running back tell Goodell during his June 16 disciplinary hearing that he had hit his then-fiancée in a casino hotel elevator, sources told “Outside the Lines.” 

Rice also testified, as did his wife, Janay. Details of what Rice and his wife testified to Nov. 6 and what Goodell said Nov. 5 were not released to ESPN’s “Outside the Lines” because of a gag order that Jones imposed. But sources said Newsome backed Rice’s previous accounts of what he told Goodell.

Goodell spent the majority of his time testifying under cross-examination by outside union attorney Jeffrey Kessler, sources said.

Rice, 27, is a three-time Pro Bowler and helped the Ravens win Super Bowl XLVII. He rushed for 6,180 yards and 37 touchdowns in six seasons with Baltimore.

Ravens receiver Torrey Smith tweeted his support of his former teammate after Rice’s reinstatement was announced.

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