NEW ORLEANS — Since NFL commissioner Roger Goodell increased former Ravens running back Ray Rice's suspension from two games to an indefinite one in September for violating the NFL's personal-conduct policy, the three-time Pro Bowl running back has been in professional limbo.
Now, Rice's status is expected to be determined within the next few days as one source with knowledge of the situation predicted that former federal judge Barbara S. Jones will hand down her ruling as soon as Monday.
Both the NFL and Rice's camp were anticipating a decision from the third-party arbitrator last Friday afternoon when it was rumored that a judgment would be rendered. When final briefs were filed to Jones on Nov. 13, sources said the judge told both parties that she would issue her ruling roughly 10 days later.
Because of the gag order imposed by Jones, no one involved with the case would speak on the record. Several NFL employees with knowledge of the case have privately predicted that Rice will be reinstated while noting the importance of Ravens general manager Ozzie Newsome's sworn testimony during the appeal hearing in which he stated that he heard Rice tell Goodell in a June meeting that he hit his then-fiancee in a casino elevator in February in Atlantic City, N.J.
Newsome's reputation for integrity is regarded as a potential ace in the hole for Rice. Rice's punishment was increased by Goodell when a graphic video surfaced that showed Rice knocking out Janay Palmer, whom he later married, with a left hook. Goodell wrote in a disciplinary letter that the video differed greatly from Rice's version of events. Rice and his wife both testified that he told the truth to Goodell and the Ravens, according to sources.
During the hearing, Rice's representatives and the NFL Players Association argued that he was punished twice for the same violation under the concept of double jeopardy.
They stressed that the NFL didn't correctly apply its personal-conduct policy based on precedents where other first-time offenders like Rice, including former Ravens cornerbacks Cary Williams and Fabian Washington, were given two-game and one-game suspensions, respectively, for domestic-violence incidents. They also argued that the NFL reacted because of the furor raised when the video leaked on celebrity website TMZ.
It remains unknown how Goodell testified to justify increasing Rice's suspension.
Rice also has filed a separate grievance against the Ravens, citing wrongful termination of his $35 million contract. Rice was due a $3.3529 million base salary this season before he was released.
Rice is seeking immediate reinstatement, but it remains unclear if he'll find a job with an NFL team this late in the season. The timing of a potential reinstatement, his long run of inactivity from practice and games, even though Rice has been working out, and the public-relations firestorm expected to follow him to any potential new NFL team are all negative factors working against him.
The Rices have gone to counseling for their relationship issues and have both said they're in a better place now. Rice said during a news conference that the physical altercation was an isolated incident.