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NFLPA hires former federal prosecutor to investigate NFL, Ravens' handling of Ray Rice situation

The NFL Players Association will conduct its own investigation of the Ray Rice situation, which will run parallel to their appeal on behalf of the indefinitely suspended former Ravens running back.

The NFLPA announced Wednesday that former federal prosecutor Richard Craig Smith, the head of regulatory and governmental investigation at the firm of Norton Rose Fulbright, will conduct an investigation surrounding the "due process, discipline, facts and conduct" of the league office and the Ravens that led to Rice's indefinite suspension.

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"As a former federal prosecutor, Mr. Smith brings tremendous experience and expertise," the NFLPA said in a statement. "The NFLPA will request that the NFL and the Baltimore Ravens cooperate in the interest of transparency."

Initially suspended for two games for violating the NFL personal-conduct policy for his domestic violence incident, Rice's suspension was increased after a video surfaced of him knocking out his then-fiancee, Janay, whom he later married. NFL commissioner Roger Goodell wrote in a disciplinary letter that the video constituted new evidence that didn't mesh with the version of events Rice told him. Rice will contend that he told the truth to the Ravens and the NFL in his meetings with them, according to sources.

The NFLPA is expected to focus a large part of their argument on Article 46 of the NFL collective bargaining agreement dealing with "One Punishment," which prohibits the NFL and teams from punishing a player for more than one offense, according to sources. They'll also argue that the NFL based its punishment of Rice on a video that was edited by TMZ, the celebrity gossip website.

"I think we have to address the process of what's going on," said veteran defensive end Chris Canty, the Ravens' player union representative. "Obviously, we don't approve of the act and it was definitely a situation where there was poor judgment involved. At the same time, you have to go about the process the right way when enforcing discipline. And that's something that the union is going to make sure that Ray has the opportunity to have due process. He has rights."

awilson@baltsun.com

twitter.com/RavensInsider

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