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NFL Players Association, Ray Rice to appeal indefinite suspension, sources say

The Baltimore Sun

Now that former Ravens running back Ray Rice's $35 million contract has been terminated and he's indefinitely suspended by the NFL, the NFL Players Association and Rice are poised to appeal by filing a grievance as soon as Monday, according to sources.

Due process and the precedent for other players facing increased punishment are among the reasons for appealing the increased punishment Rice received, the sources said.

Rice is also considering potential legal action with all options remaining on the table following his increased discipline from the league, according to sources, who noted the potential "double-jeopardy" aspect of the former NFL player being punished twice for the same offense.

Sources indicated that Rice is also regarded as likely to hire a crisis management firm to offer him advice.

On Friday, the NFLPA got a letter from commissioner Roger Goodell explaining the increased punishment. The union has three business days to file an appeal, according to the NFL collective bargaining agreement.

"This video shows a starkly different sequence of events from what you and your representatives stated when we met on June 16, and is important new information that warrants reconsideration of the discipline imposed on you in July," Goodell wrote in the letter."Based on this new information, I have concluded that the discipline imposed upon you in July was insufficient under all the circumstances and have determined instead to impose an indefinite suspension."

Rice was initially suspended two games for violating the NFL personal conduct policy following his felony aggravated assault case. On Monday, a graphic video surfaced of Rice punching his then-fiancee Janay, whom he later married, in a casino elevator in February.

Under Article 46, Section 4 of the collective bargaining agreement governing 'One Penalty,' it states that, "The Commissioner and a Club will not both discipline a player for the same act or conduct. The Commissioner’s disciplinary action will preclude or supersede disciplinary action by any Club for the same act or conduct."

When Rice's contract was terminated, he lost $3.529 million in salary for this season.

There's precedent for players coming back from an ugly off-field incident to play in the NFL again, including former Ravens wide receiver Donte' Stallworth (driving under the influence vehicular manslaughter) and New York Jets quarterback Michael Vick (served time in federal prison for his role in a massive dogfighting ring).

"It's a tough road to get back in the NFL after an incident like this, but there's a blueprint with what happened with Michael Vick," said former NFL agent Joel Corry, who covers the business of football for National Football Post. "What Ray has to do is work on repairing his image and staying out of any further trouble. If he pursues legal action, there's the question of whether that makes it more difficult for him to get reinstated by the league.

"Ray has rights to consider under the collective bargaining agreement and as a dues-paying member of the union, so it's going to be interesting to see what he and the union do with this situation."

awilson@baltsun.com

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