As commissioner Roger Goodell discussed at his New York press conference last Friday, the NFL has hired former FBI director Robert Mueller to lead an investigation into the handling of the Ray Rice incident and subsequent suspension(s). However, that won’t be the only investigation being conducted into the matter. The NFLPA announced today that the union has retained former federal prosecutor Richard Craig Smith to complete its own investigation into the “due process, discipline, facts and conduct” by the NFL and Ravens that resulted in Rice’s indefinite suspension.
There are a lot of moving parts when it comes to the separate investigations into the situation, as well as Rice’s appeal. According to the NFLPA’s statement, Smith’s investigation will “run parallel” to Rice’s appeal, which would typically be due for a hearing soon. However, a league source tells Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk that the NFL and NFLPA have either already agreed or will soon agree to postpone the appeal hearing beyond the September 30 deadline.
That delay on the appeal hearing should allow time for both investigations into the Rice situation to play out, and it shouldn’t have an adverse affect on the running back — even if he were to win an appeal soon, it’s extremely unlikely that he’ll be returning to an NFL field this season.
As for the NFLPA’s investigation, the union has requested the cooperation of both the NFL and the Ravens as Smith looks into the matter. Smith is part of the law firm Norton Rose Fulbright, which also worked with the union on the Dolphins’ bullying scandal and on the Saints’ “bountygate,” tweets Darren Rovell of ESPN.com.