As part of Ray Rice‘s appeal hearing, Ravens GM Ozzie Newsome testified under oath Thursday that he heard Rice tell NFL commissioner Roger Goodell that the ex-Ravens running back hit his then-fiancée in a casino hotel elevator, reports ESPN’s Don Van Natta Jr.
Thursday concluded Rice’s two-day appeal, which also included testimony from Goodell, Rice and and Rice’s wife, Janay. Additionally, the player’s union and the league submitted notes taken during the June 16 disciplinary hearing which left Rice suspended indefinitely for violating the personal conduct policy. The decision is now in the hands of U.S. District Judge Barbara S. Jones, who has asked for final briefs from both sides next week before she levies a ruling.
“Rice and the NFL Players Association contend the league’s indefinite suspension constitutes an enhanced punishment for the same violation and thus violates labor law,” writes Van Natta Jr. “The union also is arguing that the discipline of Rice by Goodell was inconsistent as it relates to the league’s conduct policy.”
Rice is seeking immediate reinstatement, which seems inconsequential given the PR firestorm sure to result from Rice signing with another team, though Bleacher Report’s Mike Freeman tweeted a quote an AFC scout who said: “I don’t think any team will sign him. But then again, there’s always an idiot in the room.”
Van Natta Jr. says ESPN’s Outside the Lines has a pair of sources confirming Thursday’s news. The program also quoted four sources in September who said Rice had told Goodell he hit Janay. Goodell denies that claim, saying that Rice’s June 16 account of the events was “ambiguous.”
As for the testimonies from Rice and his wife, Van Natta Jr. says a gag order imposed by Jones prevented the release of details. However, sources say Newsome supported Rice’s previous explanation to Goodell.
Weighing in on the news, Pro Football Talk’s Mike Florio condemns the NFL by wondering:
“But does any of this matter? It was known that Rice had knocked out Janay Palmer in the elevator. Whether he used a closed fist, an open hand, an elbow, a forearm, or some other part of his body, he knocked . . . her . . . out.
“And if there were any ambiguity at all, the NFL should have gotten the video. It could have gotten the video. It failed to get the video.
“Regardless, the idea that the NFL would see any ambiguity at all in the information from Rice suggests either a lack of empathy for the victim of a knockout blow. Alternatively, it’s entirely possible that the NFL is simply feigning ignorance regarding what actually happened in order to support the knee-jerk second suspension, which came only hours after the video of the incident was published.”
Click here to read the NFLPA’s statement on the hearing.