Ray Rice Reinstated, Free To Return To The NFL

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Former Baltimore Ravens running back Ray Rice, whom NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell suspended indefinitely on Sept. 8 after a video showing Rice knocking out his then-finance became public, has been reinstated following appeal.

Michael McCann, Sports Illustrated legal analyst and director of The Sports & Entertainment Law Institute at the University of New Hampshire, joined Bill Littlefield.

BL: Former U.S. District Court Judge Barbara Jones has ruled that "Rice did not lie or mislead" the commissioner. So the imposition of a second suspension in September, when Goodell says he first saw the infamous video, was "arbitrary." Is there a suggestion in this ruling that the commissioner lied?

There really are only two possibilities if Ray Rice is telling the truth: either the commissioner is lying or he was incompetent.

Michael McCann, Sports Illustrated legal expert

Neither of those interpretations reflect well on Roger Goodell. I don't know if this means that he's going to lose his job. And I say that because owners of NFL teams will be the judges as to whether or not Roger Goodell is going to continue. It isn't going to be fans, it isn't going to be media, it isn't going to be players, and most owners, it seems, have a lot of confidence in Roger Goodell in terms of his business acumen.

MM: Well, Bill, it can't get him his job back because the Ravens, as it's understood now, had a right to cut him because of the controversy surrounding him. He clearly committed domestic violence. There's video evidence of it, and as a result the Ravens were within their powers to release him. He can't get his job back but he can now sign with another team.

BL: There is, of course, no debate about whether or not Ray Rice committed domestic violence. The tape made it quite obvious. To what extent are we seeing some evidence of justice being done here?

MM: Yeah, I think there's a real concern that we haven't seen justice with Ray Rice. This is a player who didn't spend one day in jail despite seriously attacking his fiance, and there's no doubt about it. There's clear video evidence. This is someone who just defeated the NFL in terms of how the NFL suspended him.

And I think it is on some level troubling — explainable, perhaps, but still troubling — that a player who committed this act is somehow a victor. And I think that that's something that all of us need to be thinking about in terms of how we look at criminal justice and how sports leagues address these questions as well.

This segment aired on November 29, 2014.


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