Ray Rice has won the appeal of his indefinite suspension from the NFL. The former Baltimore Ravens running back can sign with any team immediately.
NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell initially suspended Rice for two games for a violent assault on his then girlfriend in an Atlantic City elevator. In response to public uproar, Goodell announced an automatic six-game suspension for such incidents by players in the future. When TMZ released video from inside the elevator showing Rice cold-clocking his girlfriend, the commissioner reversed himself again by meting out an indefinite suspension.
In a rebuke to Goodell, federal judge Barbara Jones ruled Rice “did not mislead the Commissioner at the June 16 meeting.” In other words, the TMZ video did not alter the facts presented to the NFL, only the optics.
A threat on the ground and in the air coming out of the backfield, Rice made three Pro Bowl teams and helped Baltimore win a Super Bowl. But at just 27, Rice finds himself at a career crossroads not only because of the videotaped assault that left a nation horrified and tarnished the NFL shield. The back seeks to return to the league after inactivity and a 2013 season when his production compared with the weakest regular runners in the league.
After rushing for 1,000 yards or more in his previous four seasons, Rice slipped to just 660 yards on the ground in 2013 on an anemic 3.1 yards per carry. Unlike Adrian Peterson, who, despite being older, remains very much in his prime, the market for Rice may be limited.