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NFL says Roger Goodell never intended to hear Ray Rice appeal

In the wake of the NFL Players Association filing an appeal on behalf of indefinitely suspended former Ravens running back Ray Rice and requesting that Roger Goodell recuse himself from handling the case, NFL spokesman Greg Aiello wrote in an email to The Baltimore Sun that the NFL commissioner never intended to hear this appeal.

Rice was suspended last week after a video surfaced of him punching his then-fiancee, Janay, whom he later married, in a casino elevator. His $35 million contract was terminated by the Ravens, costing him his $3.529 million base salary for this season.

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"This action taken by our union is to protect the due process rights of all NFL players," the NFLPA said in a statement Tuesday night. "The NFLPA appeal is based on supporting facts that reveal a lack of a fair and impartial process, including the role of the office of the Commissioner of the NFL. We have asked that a neutral and jointly selected arbitrator hear this case as the Commissioner and his staff will be essential witnesses in the proceeding and thus cannot serve as impartial arbitrators."

A hearing date must be set within 10 days of the filing of the appeal.

Who will hear the appeal remains undetermined.

In the New Orleans Saints' "Bountygate" scandal, former NFL commissioner Paul Tagliabue heard the appeal and vacated Goodell's punishments.

"They really need to appoint a third party for the Rice case," said attorney David Cornwell, a former NFL counsel who successfully represented Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger and former Ravens wide receiver Donte' Stallworth in previous NFL disciplinary matters. "I don't know that Paul Tagliabue would want to do it. If one of the league folks are the hearing officer, their job could be on the line. That's a tough situation. It's going to be interesting."

awilson@baltsun.com
twitter.com/RavensInsider

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