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Ray Rice, wife and lawyer to meet with NFL, NFLPA investigators, sources say

INDIANAPOLIS -- Former Ravens running back Ray Rice, his wife, Janay, and his defense attorney, Michael Diamondstein, will meet with both NFL investigator Robert Mueller III and NFL Players Association investigator Richard Craig Smith, according to sources with knowledge of the situation.

Maximizing convenience and ensuring transparency were the primary reasons for the plan to conduct the interviews this way. Rice and his wife will be interviewed separately, according to a source. The dates for the interviews haven't been determined yet, per a source.

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The case of the indefinitely suspended running back and other off-field situations involving NFL players, including Carolina Panthers defensive end Greg Hardy (domestic violence case) and Minnesota Vikings running back Adrian Peterson (child abuse allegations), are expected to be a major topic of discussion at the NFL's league meetings in New York this week.

NFL commissioner Roger Goodell has been meeting with retired NFL players, including former Ravens kicker Matt Stover, regarding disciplinary matters.

Diamondstein represented Rice in his felony aggravated assault case that came from a domestic violence incident between the three-time Pro Bowl player and his then-fiancee in February at Revel Casino in Atlantic City, N.J. Rice was accepted into a pretrial intervention program, avoiding jail time.

In NFL matters, Rice is being represented by veteran attorney Peter Ginsberg.

Ginsberg represented former New Orleans Saints linebacker Jonathan Vilma in the Bountygate episode. Ginsberg has also represented former Dallas Cowboys wide receiver Michael Irvin and professional golfer Vijay Singh, as well as Maryland basketball player Dez Wells in his lawsuit against Xavier University.

Rice initially was suspended for two games for violating the NFL's personal conduct policy, but his punishment was increased on Sept. 8 to an indefinite amount of time when a video surfaced of him knocking out Janay in a casino elevator. His $35 million contract was terminated by the Ravens shortly before the NFL punishment was levied.

Now, the case has reached the investigation phase with Mueller, a former FBI director, conducting his probe while the NFLPA also investigates Rice's case.

Former federal district judge Barbara S. Jones was appointed this week by Goodell as the hearing officer for Rice's appeal, with the NFL commissioner consulting with NFLPA executive director DeMaurice Smith on the choice. No hearing date has been scheduled.

According to sources, Ginsberg and NFLPA are expected to argue in the appeal that Rice was punished twice. That would be in violation of Article 46 of the collective bargaining agreement, which governs "One Punishment" and states that a player cannot be punished more than once for a single offense. They also will argue that the elevator video released by celebrity gossip website TMZ was edited.

Goodell cited the video as "new evidence" in his disciplinary letter to Rice.

Ravens team president Dick Cass worked at the Washington law firm for 30 years, but his employment didn't overlap with Mueller's.

Mueller is a law partner at WilmerHale, which has done a lot of business with the NFL, including the lucrative DirecTV deal announced in March 2009. The firm didn't do the recent NFL Direc-TV agreement.

The firm recently represented the Washington Redskins and Dallas Cowboys in a case against the NFL involving salary-cap penalties levied against the two NFC East franchises.

"We are not relying on the Mueller investigation, nor are we confident that it will be conflict-free," Ginsberg told The Baltimore Sun last week. "The hearing before Judge Jones is independent of the Mueller investigation and we are directing our efforts toward Judge Jones' grievance process.

"I have tremendous respect for Judge Jones. We look forward to a fair hearing that will move expeditiously. We look forward to it."

awilson@baltsun.com

twitter.com/RavensInsider

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