The NFL has handed Ravens running back Ray Rice a two-game suspension for a February case of felony aggravated assault when he allegedly hit his girlfriend into unconsciousness at an Atlantic City casino.
The 27-year-old, three-time Pro Bowl player was accused of striking his fiancée on February 15 as the pair vacationed in New Jersey. Rice was charged with felony aggravated assault and accepted a pretrial violence intervention program, a sentence that allowed him to avoid jail time.
The court-assigned violence prevention program is not the end of the incident, though. Now NFL commissioner Roger Goodell has announced that Rice is being sidelined with a two-game suspension without pay.
The cost in lost wages to the player is reported as being upwards to $700,000.
In a letter explaining the decision, Goodell wrote: “As you acknowledged during our meeting, your conduct was unquestionably inconsistent with league polices and the standard of behavior required of everyone who is part of the NFL. The league is an entity that depends on integrity and in the confidence of the public and we simply cannot tolerate conduct that endangers others or reflects negatively on our game. This is particularly true with respect to domestic violence and other forms of violence against women.”
The Ravens issued their own statement saying that the NFL’s decision was a fair one.
“While not having Ray for the first two games is significant to our team, we respect the league’s decision and believe it is fair,” Ravens general manager Ozzie Newsome said.
“There are consequences when you make a mistake like that…. It’s good for kids to understand that it works that way. That’s how it works, that’s how it should be. We’ll move forward and the next guy will have to step up and Ray will be back when the time comes,” Ravens head coach John Harbaugh said.
Harbaugh also said he stands behind the troubled player.
For his part, Ray Rice also released a statement saying, “It is disappointing that I will not be with my teammates for the first two games of the season, but that’s my fault. As I said earlier, I failed in many ways. But, [wife] Janay and I have learned from this. We have become better as a couple and as parents. I am better because of everything we have experienced since that night. The counseling has helped tremendously.”
Rice will be allowed to participate in training camp, but will miss the first two games of the season but he has the right to appeal the NFL’s decision. Rice will miss the Cincinnati Bengals (Sept. 7) game and the contest with the Pittsburgh Steelers (Sept. 11).
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