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NFLPA investigator Richard Craig Smith complains about lack of cooperation from NFL, Ravens

Shortly after the NFL announced in September the hiring of former FBI Director Robert Mueller III to conduct an investigation into the pursuit and handling of evidence in Ray Rice's domestic-violence case, the NFL Players Association announced that it would conduct its own investigation.

The players' union hired former federal prosecutor Richard Craig Smith, who complained Friday night in an interview with the Associated Press that the NFL and Ravens haven't cooperated with his requests for documents and witnesses.

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"I am interested in the facts, and if we get cooperation from all the parties that were involved, we will have an understanding of what happened," Smith told the wire service. "We cannot accept public statements that call for transparency, candor and openness and then not allow the investigators to do their jobs."

Under NFL rules, the league and the Ravens aren't obligated to cooperate with Smith's investigation. Smith has no subpoena power, and neither does Mueller. Ravens officials have cooperated with Mueller's investigation, however.

Smith didn't immediately return a telephone message and email from The Baltimore Sun on Friday night.

Rice is appealing his indefinite suspension by the NFL and has a hearing set for Nov. 5-6 before third-party arbitrator Barbara S. Jones, a former federal prosecutor. The three-time Pro Bowl running back also has filed a separate grievance against the Ravens, citing wrongful termination. The Ravens terminated Rice's $35 million contract Sept. 8 after video was released of Rice hitting his then-fiancee, Janay Palmer, in an Atlantic City, N.J., casino.

"If the NFL is genuinely concerned about fixing the issues that led to an admitted mistake, then they should be honest and forthright about what they knew and when they knew it," Smith said. "We want both our team and Bob Mueller's team each to be able to conduct a thorough review of all the relevant facts."

Smith is the head of regulatory and governmental investigation for Norton Rose Fulbright, a Washington law firm. He previously represented the union during the New Orleans Saints' bounty scandal.

"As a former federal prosecutor, Mr. Smith brings tremendous experience and expertise," the NFLPA said in a statement upon Smith's hiring last month. "The NFLPA will request that the NFL and the Baltimore Ravens cooperate in the interest of transparency."

Ravens veteran defensive end Chris Canty, the Ravens' player-union representative, previously told The Sun that Rice's rights of due process need to be protected.

"I think we have to address the process of what's going on," Canty said. "Obviously, we don't approve of the act, and it was definitely a situation where there was poor judgment involved. At the same time, you have to go about the process the right way when enforcing discipline. And that's something that the union is going to make sure that Ray has the opportunity to have due process. He has rights."

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