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NFL, NFLPA issue statements after Ray Rice reinstated with successful appeal

The NFL Players Association wants a neutral arbitrator for every NFL disciplinary matter.

In the case of former Ravens running back Ray Rice, former federal judge Barbara S. Jones ruled Friday that the three-time Pro Bowl running back must be immediately reinstated by the NFL following his successful appeal of an indefinite suspension levied by NFL commissioner Roger Goodell following an original two-game suspension for violating the NFL personal-conduct policy.

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"This decision is a victory for a disciplinary process that is fair and transparent," the NFLPA said in a statement. "This union will always stand up and fight for the due process of our players. We take no pleasure in seeing a decision that confirms what we have been saying about the Commissioner's office acting arbitrarily. The only remaining action is for NFL owners to embrace a fair process with a neutral arbitrator in all cases. The players thank Judge Barbara Jones for her time and thoroughness in this matter."

The NFL has no plans to pursue the matter any further, acknowledging in a statement that Rice is immediately eligible to be signed by an NFL team.

"We respect Judge Jones's decision to reinstate Ray Rice from his indefinite suspension for violating the league's Personal Conduct Policy in an incident of domestic violence," the NFL stated. "Ray Rice is a free agent and has been eligible to be signed by an NFL team since he was released by the Ravens. Based on Judge Jones' decision, he will be eligible to play upon signing a new contract."

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