Ray Rice has been reinstated to the NFL, according to ESPN.
Rice was suspended indefinitely from the league after video surfaced of him punching his then fiancee, now wife, Janay Rice in an elevator. Rice appealed this suspension earlier this month to US District Judge Barbara S. Jones who decided in his favor.
“After careful consideration of all of the evidence, I am not persuaded that Rice lied to, or misled, the NFL at his June interview, I find that the indefinite suspension was an abuse of discretion and must be vacated,” Jones’ decision stated.
NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell originally suspended Rice from two games when the violent incident was reported to him in February. After a video of the scene was released publicly, however, Goodell suspended Rice indefinitely. Judge Jones feels that that this decision was not fair to Rice.
“The Commissioner needed to be fair and consistent in his imposition of discipline,” Jones wrote. “Moreover, any failure on the part of the League to understand the level of violence was not due to Rice’s description of the event but to the inadequacy of words to convey the seriousness of domestic violence. That the League did not realize the severity of the conduct without a visual record also speaks to their admitted failure in the past to sanction this type of conduct more severely.”
The NFL Players Association considers this decision to be a “victory” for them and for Rice.
“This decision is a victory for a disciplinary process that is fair and transparent,” the NFLPA said Friday in a statement. “This union will always stand up and fight for the due process rights of our players. We take no pleasure in seeing a decision that confirms what we have been saying about the Commissioner’s office acting arbitrarily.”
Rice is now eligible to sign with any NFL team. NFL spokesman Andrew Brandt said they must “accept the ruling as binding.” Rice’s former teammate seems to be happy to have him back in the league. Ravens wide receiver Torrey Smith sent out this tweet shortly after the decision was announced.
Second chances are only as good as you make them….my boy will do the right things— Torrey Smith (@TorreySmithWR) November 28, 2014