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NFL lawyers rebuff players' union request that Goodell testify in Rice appeal hearing, sources say

NFL lawyers rebuff players' union request that Goodell testify in Rice appeal hearing, sources say
(Andrew Burton / Getty Images)

NFL lawyers have rebuffed a request from the NFL Players Association that NFL commissioner Roger Goodell testify in the pending appeal of indefinitely suspended former Ravens running back Ray Rice, according to sources.

Whether Goodell is ordered to testify will be at the discretion of Judge Barbara S. Jones, the hearing officer appointed by Goodell in consultation with NFLPA executive director DeMaurice Smith. It's unclear how the former federal district judge will proceed.

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Sources with knowledge of the situation expect the appeal hearing to be held in early November.

In the disciplinary letter sent to Rice when his two-game suspension was increased to an indefinite one, Goodell said he based that decision on new video evidence of the three-time Pro Bowl runner knocking out his then-fiancee, Janay, in a casino elevator.

Goodell said Rice's account of what happened differed from the video obtained by the celebrity gossip website TMZ.

A source said that the NFL is reluctant to have a he-said, he-said situation between Goodell and Rice unfold during the appeal hearing. However, that might be unavoidable. Rice is adamant that he told the truth with no ambiguity in his meetings with Goodell and the Ravens, according to sources.

"We intend to comply with the confidentiality order entered by Judge Jones regarding the appeal proceedings," NFL spokesman Brian McCarthy told The Baltimore Sun in an email.

The NFL has hired Robert Mueller III, a former FBI director, and the NFLPA has hired Richard Craig Smith, a former federal prosecutor, to investigate the case.

No specific timetable has been set for the conclusion of the investigations, but New York Giants owner John Mara said last week that he expects Mueller's investigation to take several months to be completed.

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