Ozzie Newsome testifies that Ray Rice told Roger Goodell the truth

Ravens general manager Ozzie Newsome testified on Thursday that Ray Rice told NFL commissioner Roger Goodell on June 16 that he hit his then-fiancee, according to sources with knowledge of Newsome's sworn testimony.

The testimony could prove crucial to Rice's bid for immediate reinstatement to the NFL, since the central point of the former Ravens running back's appeal hearing was to determine what transpired at the June meeting. The hearing at a New York law firm concluded Thursday afternoon.


Newsome had previously said in a statement that Rice acknowledged he hit Janay Palmer during a Februrary domestic-violence incident in an Atlantic City, N.J., casino elevator, but Newsome added that video of the incident was more violent than what he had anticipated.

Third-party arbitrator Barbara S. Jones might be left to sort out the usage of words such as "hit," "punch," and "strike," as she contemplates how to rule.

Because of a gag order imposed by Jones, the former federal judge who presided over the two-day hearing, no one would comment on the record. Jones' ruling isn't expected to be handed down until next week at the earliest.

Rice and Janay, whom he married after being indicted on a felony aggravated assault charge, testified separately under oath on Thursday that Rice told the truth to Goodell and the Ravens, according to sources.

Ravens team president Dick Cass wasn't called to testify by Rice's representatives, who were apparently satisfied with their questioning of Newsome.

Goodell was questioned by NFL Players Association outside counsel Jeffrey Kessler on Wednesday.

It's unknown what Goodell cited as justification for increasing Rice's original two-game suspension to an indefinite one. However, the NFL's top executive previously said in a disciplinary letter to Rice and the players' union that the three-time Pro Bowl runner's version of events differed greatly from a graphic video that surfaced Sept. 8 of Rice punching his then-fiancee with a left hook that rendered her unconscious.

Rice's lawyers argued that the former Rutgers star was treated unfairly by the NFL, saying they violated his rights under labor law by punishing him twice for the same violation of the NFL personal-conduct policy. They said the league reacted because of the public-relations firestorm that engulfed the NFL after the video was published and argued that the NFL already knew what happened in the elevator.

Rice has also filed a separate grievance against the Ravens, citing wrongful termination of his $35 million contract and seeking payment of his previously-scheduled $3.529 million base salary for the 2014 season.

Although the NFL didn't comment publicly on the hearing, the NFL Players Association issued a statement after the hearing saying they're pleased with how the Rice case was handled.

"The NFLPA thanks Judge Barbara Jones for presiding over a fair and thorough hearing," the union said in a statement. "This is the first time in the history of our league that a disciplinary hearing has been conducted pursuant to a joint agreement on a neutral arbitrator. We commend NFL owners and officials for the wisdom of this decision which enhances the credibility and integrity of our business. The collectively bargained rights of all players must be vehemently preserved and we take that obligation seriously."

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