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NFL players’ union appeals Ray Rice punishment

Ray Rice
The NFL Players Assn. is appealing the league’s indefinite suspension of former Baltimore Ravens running back Ray Rice.
(Andy Lyons / Getty Images)

The NFL Players Assn. filed an appeal Tuesday on behalf of running back Ray Rice, saying the supporting facts of his indefinite NFL suspension “reveal a lack of a fair and impartial process” by the league and Commissioner Roger Goodell.

As expected, the NFLPA wants the power to punish Rice taken out of the commissioner’s hands.

“We have asked that a neutral and jointly selected arbitrator hear this case as the commissioner and his staff will be essential witnesses in the proceeding and thus cannot serve as impartial arbitrators,” the union said in a prepared statement.

The union argues that under governing labor law, an employee cannot be punished twice for the same action “when all of the relevant facts were available to the employer at the time of the first punishment.”

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Three months ago, a video showing Baltimore Ravens’ running back Ray Rice dragging his fiancée out of an elevator resulted in a two-game suspension and criticism that Goodell was too lenient.

Last week, a second video from inside the elevator was released by TMZ, showing Rice knocking the woman to the ground, then dragging her out when the doors opened. The couple has since married.

The Ravens cut Rice from the team and Goodell suspended him indefinitely. The commissioner said no one at the NFL had seen the video. The NFL was then under fire for not being more aggressive in obtaining the video.

Two days later, the Associated Press cited a law enforcement official who said the NFL did have the footage, and he produced a voicemail from someone at the NFL acknowledging its receipt.

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The union said that, in accordance with the collective bargaining agreement, a hearing date must be set within 10 days of the appeal.

Here is the full statement released by the NFL Players Assn.:

Today, the NFL Players Association formally filed an appeal of the indefinite suspension of Ray Rice by the NFL. This action taken by our union is to protect the due process rights of all NFL players.

The NFLPA appeal is based on supporting facts that reveal a lack of a fair and impartial process, including the role of the office of the commissioner of the NFL. We have asked that a neutral and jointly selected arbitrator hear this case as the commissioner and his staff will be essential witnesses in the proceeding and thus cannot serve as impartial arbitrators.

-- NFL Players Association

Additional information on this matter:

  • The terms of the collective bargaining agreement require a hearing date to be set within 10 days of this appeal notice.

  • Under governing labor law, an employee cannot be punished twice for the same action when all of the relevant facts were available to the employer at the time of the first punishment.

  • The hearing will require a neutral arbitrator to determine what information was available to the NFL and when it was available.

Times staff writer Austin Knoblauch contributed to this report.


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