Peter Ginsberg, a veteran New York attorney who previously represented former New Orleans Saints linebacker Jonathan Vilma in the Bountygate scandal, hammered Goodell after Rice's reinstatement Friday, which followed a ruling by former federal judge Barbara S. Jones.
"Hopefully, the NFL will use this incident to learn and to improve," Ginsberg said. "On the heels of Bountygate, Commissioner Roger Goodell has shown once again that he does not follow the rules in his treatment of players and that his judgment cannot be trusted. Under his leadership, the NFL ignored for years the need to create a stronger and more constructive program to address domestic abuse. As we all know, the Rice incident is not an isolated one. It was only in the face of a public outcry, however, that the NFL finally took a step in the right direction with its new domestic violence policy.
"But rather than admitting he had been ignoring the domestic violence issue for years, and had failed to subject past violators to real scrutiny, Commissioner Goodell turned his own failings on Ray by punishing him a second time for an offense about which Commissioner Goodell had been fully and completely aware when he imposed the original suspension. That action threatened to end Ray’s career."
Rice was originally suspended for two games, then suspended indefinitely after a graphic video surfaced of him punching Janay Palmer and knocking her out in a casino elevator.
"And in so doing, Commissioner Goodell ignored the basic principle that every worker must be treated in a manner consistent with past punishments and in accordance with published procedures," Ginsberg wrote. "Second punishments for the same conduct are unprecedented and not permitted as a matter of basic and fundamental principle. Perhaps now, finally, NFL owners will give real thought to whether the ‘NFL shield’ should tolerate a leader who fails to lead in important areas like domestic violence and who time and again ignores the League’s workers’ due process rights and the right to be treated with fundamental fairness. There are many lessons to be learned from this unfortunate event – Ray is well on his way to learning his from this awful event. Time will tell whether the NFL and NFL owners are learning theirs as well."
Although the Rice camp was pleased with the decision, the reality is that the three-time Pro Bowl running back has been suspended for the majority of the season and faces an uncertain future in the NFL.
"It is a huge relief that Judge Barbara Jones has ruled that Ray can get back to work," Ginsberg said. "That is the fair and legally-correct result. The decision, however, certainly does not mean that this incident will be forgotten by anyone involved. On a personal level, Ray, individually, and Ray and Janay, as a couple, are dealing with these events privately. On a professional level, it is time for Ray to prove himself again."