According to multiple reports, Baltimore Ravens running back Ray Rice will be suspended for the team's first two games this season under the NFL’s personal-conduct policy, after beating his then-fiancee unconscious during an altercation in February.
Rice, 27, a three-time Pro Bowl player, will miss a pair of division games, against Cincinnati and Pittsburgh, before he will be eligible to be reinstated Sept. 12. He will also be fined $58,000, according to ESPN, which first reported the news.
[Updated at 10:45 a.m.: The NFL has confirmed Rice's two-game suspension and released portions of a letter to the player from Commissioner Roger Goodell.
In his letter to Rice, Goodell wrote:
“As you acknowledged during our meeting, your conduct was unquestionably inconsistent with league polices and the standard of behavior required of everyone who is part of the NFL. The league is an entity that depends on integrity and in the confidence of the public and we simply cannot tolerate conduct that endangers others or reflects negatively on our game. This is particularly true with respect to domestic violence and other forms of violence against women.
“You will be expected to continue to take advantage of the counseling and other professional services you identified during our meeting. As you noted, this additional assistance has been of significant benefit to you and your wife, and it should remain a part of your practice as appropriate.
“I believe that you are sincere in your desire to learn from this matter and move forward toward a healthy relationship and successful career. I am now focused on your actions and expect you to demonstrate by those actions that you are prepared to fulfill those expectations.”
Rice, whose suspension begins Aug. 30, can appeal his suspension within three days. He is allowed to participate in training camp and exhibition games.]
Rice and his now-wife, Janay, were arrested Feb. 15 on assault charges after fighting in an elevator at Atlantic City's Revel Casino and Hotel. Security video captured Rice striking her and knocking her unconscious.
The couple subsequently participated in a program for first-time offenders, which included family counseling, that cleared their records of any criminal charges stemming from the incident.
At training camp Thursday, Ravens Coach John Harbaugh declined to speak specifically about the suspension because it had not been announced by the league.
"It's just part of the process," Harbaugh said. "We always said from the beginning that the circumstances would determine the consequences. There are consequences when you make a mistake like that. I stand behind Ray, he's a heck of a guy, he's done everything right since. He makes a mistake, he's gonna have to pay a consequence.
"I think that's good for kids to understand it works that way, that's how it works, that's how it should be. We'll move forward, and the next guy will have to step up and Ray will be back when the time comes. It's not something that we're dwelling on, we're not worrying about it, we're just moving forward.”
Rice is among the league’s top running backs, with a total of 5,066 yards rushing in the four seasons before last fall, when his production dropped to 660 yards rushing in 15 games.
There have been 21 NFL arrests involving 20 players since the Super Bowl (counting this week’s arrest of Jacksonville’s Justin Blackmon, who is not yet listed on a arrest database kept by the San Diego Union-Tribune), and five of those players were Baltimore Ravens.