Baltimore Ravens fans showed support for former running back Ray Rice by wearing his jersey at the Steelers game at M&T Bank Stadium. (Kevin Richardson/Baltimore Sun video)
League commissioner Roger Goodell notified the NFL Players Association on Friday that former Ravens running back Ray Rice was suspended indefinitely because his version of his February altercation with his then-fiancee was "starkly different" than the one shown on the video that surfaced earlier in the week.
Rice and Janay Palmer met with Goodell on June 16 at the league's New York headquarters.
"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, according to ESPN. "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's contract was terminated by the Ravens on Monday just hours after TMZ put a video on its website that showed Rice knocking Janay Palmer unconscious with a punch. The Ravens and Goodell, who was widely criticized for initially suspending Rice for only two games, have maintained that they hadn't seen what happened in the video before it came out Monday.
Asked about Goodell's letter Friday to the NFLPA, NFL spokesman Brian McCarthy said, "All matters relating to the league's investigation into the Ray Rice domestic violence disciplinary matter will be reviewed by former FBI Director Robert Mueller as part of his independent investigation."
The investigation that the league has termed "independent" is being overseen by the owners of the New York Giants and Pittsburgh Steelers.
After getting the notification from Goodell on Friday, the players' union now has three business days to determine whether to appeal the suspension. According to a source, there's a strong possibility that the NFLPA will file a grievance on behalf of Rice even without his approval. The grievance could by prompted by NFLPA concerns about due process and precedent for other NFL players.
Ravens officials have said that they weren't prepared for what was ultimately in the video.
"There's a big difference between reading a report that says he knocked her unconscious or being told that someone had slapped someone and that she had hit her head. That is one version of the facts," Ravens team president Dick Cass said in an exclusive interview with The Baltimore Sun on Wednesday. "That's what we understood to be the case. When you see the video, it just looks very different than what we understood the facts to be."
General manager Ozzie Newsome, however, said that "Ray didn't lie to me" when he was asked if the video matched up with the version of events that Ray explained to Newsome and head coach John Harbaugh when they spoke following the running back's arrest.
Newsome said he wasn't sure what Rice and Palmer told Goodell during the June meeting.
"We had a meeting but also Ray and Janay and Roger had a separate meeting and a story was told in that meeting," Newsome said. "So what was said during the meeting between the three could have been a lot different than what was said when [we] were in a room together."