Tag Archive | "Roger Goodell"

Rice wins appeal of indefinite suspension, cleared for NFL return

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Rice wins appeal of indefinite suspension, cleared for NFL return

Posted on 28 November 2014 by Luke Jones

Former Ravens running back Ray Rice has been cleared to return to the NFL.

Former U.S. District Judge Barbara S. Jones ruled in favor of the 27-year-old’s appeal of an indefinite suspension handed down by NFL commissioner Roger Goodell on Sept. 8, the same day TMZ released a video of Rice striking then-fiancée Janay Palmer in the face in at Atlantic City casino elevator. Jones decided the NFL had unfairly punished Rice twice for the same act despite Goodell’s claim that the running back’s account of what had happened was ambiguous when they met in June.

“In this arbitration, the NFL argues that Commissioner Goodell was misled when he disciplined Rice the first time,” Jones wrote in her decision. “Because, 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.”

Rice had initially been suspended two games — a punishment received with much public contempt — and was set to return to the Ravens in Week 3 before the second video was released the morning after the season-opening loss to Cincinnati. Baltimore terminated Rice’s contract moments before the NFL announced his indefinite suspension.

The NFL and the Ravens have maintained they never saw the video evidence of what happened inside the elevator of the Revel Casino, but Jones ruled that Rice’s story of what had happened was accurate and the video brought no new evidence that warranted a second suspension. General manager Ozzie Newsome stated publicly that Rice never lied to him about what happened with Palmer, but team officials admitted seeing the graphic video changed their perception of the incident after standing by him for nearly seven months.

Jones ruled that any shock or outcry over the release of the inside-the-elevator video should not have influenced what was already a standing punishment.

“I do not doubt that viewing the video in September evoked horror in Commissioner Goodell as it did with the public,” Jones wrote. “But this does not change the fact that Rice did not lie or mislead the NFL at the June 16 meeting.”

The hearing took place in New York in early November with Rice, Goodell, Newsome, and others testifying.

Rice issued the following statement through the NFL Players Association after the decision was announced:

“I would like to thank Judge Barbara Jones, the NFL Players Association, my attorneys, agents, advisors, family, friends and fans — but most importantly, my wife Janay. I made an inexcusable mistake and accept full responsibility for my actions. I am thankful that there was a proper appeals process in place to address this issue. I will continue working hard to improve myself and be the best husband, father and friend, while giving back to my community and helping others to learn from my mistakes.”

In a statement, the NFL acknowledged it would not challenge Jones’ ruling.

“We respect Judge Jones’s decision to reinstate Ray Rice from his indefinite suspension for violating the league’s Personal Conduct Policy in an incident of domestic violence,” the league stated. “Ray Rice is a free agent and has been eligible to be signed by an NFL team since he was released by the Ravens. Based on Judge Jones’ decision, he will be eligible to play upon signing a new contract.”

Rice had technically been free to sign with another team, but the lifting of his suspension now makes him eligible to play after he was banned for the first 12 weeks of the season. It remains to be seen if a team would be interested in the public relations distraction of immediately signing a player so closely linked with domestic violence, which remains a hot-button topic around the league.

The potential public backlash would be obvious, but Rice is also coming off the worst season of his career in which he averaged just 3.1 yards per carry and gained only 660 rushing yards. Rice dropped weight this past offseason and appeared in good shape during training camp and the preseason, but it’s uncertain if any team would risk signing him to a contract at least between now and the end of the 2014 season.

“I hope he gets a second chance,” former Ravens teammate and close friend Torrey Smith said earlier this week. “We live in a country where you are supposed to truly get second chances, and our judicial system is based on that. It’s supposed to be, at least. It’s not always that way. But [I hope] he gets a chance to redeem himself and show people who he really is, because that guy on that tape made a bad decision.”

Rice also has a separate wrongful termination grievance against the Ravens. If he wins that, he could collect as much as $3.2 million in base salary originally owed this season, but that case is more complicated considering the latitude NFL teams have in releasing players.

What Friday’s decision really means for Rice in 2014 remains to be seen, but the NFLPA will view it as a significant victory challenging the autonomy of Goodell in such matters.

“This decision is a victory for a disciplinary process that is fair and transparent,” the union stated. “This union will always stand up and fight for the due process 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. The only remaining action is for NFL owners to embrace a fair process with a neutral arbitrator in all cases. The players thank Judge Barbara Jones for her time and thoroughness in this matter.”

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Bisciotti draws clear line in sand responding to ESPN report

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Bisciotti draws clear line in sand responding to ESPN report

Posted on 23 September 2014 by Luke Jones

If you listened to Steve Bisciotti’s words and read the Ravens’ lengthy response to the ESPN report accusing the organization of “purposeful misdirection” in its handling of the Ray Rice investigation, you were unlikely to feel dramatically different than you had entering Monday afternoon.

Short of documented proof of the organization securing a copy of the inside-elevator tape before the morning of Sept. 8, the saga has morphed into a case of “he said, she said” among the Ravens, the NFL, and Rice’s camp with the 100-percent truth somewhere in that abyss. Deciphering semantics, truths, half-truths, and outright lies from all involved parties hasn’t been easy for anyone trying to consume the story over the last seven months.

Most are going to believe what they want to believe by now.

But Bisciotti drew a clear line in the sand against the reporting of ESPN’s Don Van Natta and Kevin Van Valkenburg, emphatically claiming the story came from Rice’s attorney, agent, and friends invested in his appeal for NFL reinstatement. It’s a bold statement that will only encourage more digging from the media outlet — not to mention others — and could prove to be a fatal strategy should more be uncovered.

Taking nothing away from the journalistic work, the piece does present — at least in part — Rice’s side of the story, even with sources the reporters say are outside his camp. And, of course, Rice’s perspective needed to be presented, just like the Ravens and NFL commissioner Roger Goodell have offered their accounts.

Unlike a fumbling and robotic Goodell speaking in New York last Friday, Bisciotti spoke with conviction — whether you believe him or not — and appeared human, at times charming and forthcoming when encouraging further questioning toward the end of his 48-minute press conference but also defiant and even dismissive of questions already answered in a release handed out to media just moments before the session began. The decision to issue the written response so close to the start of the press conference reeked of attempting to throw the media off-track and wasn’t a good look from a public relations standpoint.

The truth is Monday’s open forum with Bisciotti should have taken place two weeks ago in lieu of a few interviews with individual outlets in the days following Rice’s release. A press conference with the team’s owner should have happened long before the damning allegations were presented in the ESPN report last Friday.

“I’m sorry that we didn’t push harder to get that tape,” said Bisciotti, reiterating the same position he gave two weeks ago. “It seems to me, in hindsight, that we certainly had the leverage to say to Ray and his lawyer that we can’t have him play on our team until we see that last bit of evidence. That’s what we’re dealing with now.”

Whether subscribing fully to ESPN’s report of an egregious coverup or believing the Ravens’ account that essentially highlights the difference in perception between an open hand and a punch — should that have mattered anyway? — and makes the organization look incompetent at best, my mind keeps coming back to what Bisciotti said to The Sun the week of Rice’s release:

We kind of heard what we wanted to hear and imagined what we wanted to imagine because we loved Ray.

Even if the Ravens can successfully dispute the severity of some of the accusations presented in ESPN’s report, nothing said by Bisciotti, team president Dick Cass, general manager Ozzie Newsome, or head coach John Harbaugh has adequately refuted a position of — at best — willful ignorance throughout the ordeal. Bisciotti’s claim that he “wasn’t concerned or interested enough” to secure the video isn’t believable unless the Ravens truly wanted to remain in the dark beyond what was already written in the police report, what was seen in the first video released by TMZ, and what the accounts provided by Rice and head of security Darren Sanders said.

It was only after the second video came to light that the organization changed its tune. But Bisciotti’s words on Monday seemed to confirm it was all about public fallout and had little to do with their own horror of what happened in the elevator being worse than they claimed to have originally thought.

“If we had gotten the tape early on in the spring, and Roger had seen it, then I think that it would have been a precedent-setting, multi-game, maybe eight-game suspension, or maybe indefinite,” Bisciotti said. “I think it would have been something significant, and then that would have been taken out of our hands as a team, and we would have waited for Ray’s reinstatement, and maybe we wouldn’t have had to make a decision right then and there to cut him if he had been suspended indefinitely.

“But I believe that he would have a better chance of being forgiven [after] eight games or a whole year after that tape came out. If that tape came out in March or April, I don’t think people would have been aghast. I think that it would have raised the ire of the people, and I think Roger would have responded accordingly. And I think it would have been a one-time shot, and I think it would have been significant, but Ray would have been in the same position of, ‘Do we try and appeal it?’”

In the big picture, what’s done is done and while there are more chapters to come in this story, there’s no disputing the extensive — perhaps, irreparable — damage that the Ravens have done to their own reputation. Bisciotti says no one in the organization will lose their job in the fallout, but that’s only if there is no concrete evidence that implicates him or any other members of the Ravens’ brass in an alleged coverup.

The owner’s strong stance Monday put his organization further under the microscope for scrutiny and investigation than the Ravens had already been.

Telling the truth or not is one thing, but Bisciotti and the Ravens need to be positive a smoking gun isn’t waiting to be uncovered to bring them down.

“If all I can do is try and correct our wrongs and do what we think is right, that decision to cut Ray was that,” Bisciotti said. “I can’t please those people that think we didn’t do enough.”

For the sake of the Ravens, Bisciotti better know he did the right thing on Monday and didn’t simply escalate a battle that he ultimately won’t win.

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Report: Ravens immediately learned graphic details of Rice incident

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Report: Ravens immediately learned graphic details of Rice incident

Posted on 19 September 2014 by Luke Jones

On the same day in which a Ray Rice jersey exchange was held and NFL commissioner Roger Goodell showed remorse without divulging any specifics in an afternoon press conference, a report attempted to shed light on the Ravens’ mishandling and potential coverup of the running back’s domestic violence incident.

According to an ESPN report, Ravens director of security Darren Sanders spoke to an Atlantic City police officer who’d watched the now-infamous video hours after the February incident and learned the explicit details of what transpired between Rice and then-fiancée Janay Palmer. Sanders then relayed that information to team officials, but it remains unclear whom he spoke with directly.

Upon the TMZ release of the first video just four days after the incident, head coach John Harbaugh and senior personnel assistant George Kokinis reportedly recommended that the organization release Rice, but team owner Steve Bisciotti, general manager Ozzie Newsome, and team president Dick Cass rejected the suggestion, instead choosing to stand by the troubled running back. After offensive lineman Jah Reid became the third Ravens player arrested in the offseason, Harbaugh again approached team officials about releasing Rice, Reid, and wide receiver Deonte Thompson — the other player arrested in the offseason at that point — but was rejected again, according to ESPN.

The Ravens denied these allegations in a statement included in the ESPN piece saying, “John Harbaugh did not want to release Ray Rice until he saw the second video on September 8 for the first time. The video changed everything for all of us.”

Harbaugh was the only member of the Ravens’ brass to meet with reporters on the day Rice’s contract was terminated.

The report does not indicate that the Ravens ever had a copy of the video showing what happened inside the elevator, but Cass spoke to Rice’s attorney, Michael Diamondstein, in early April after the defense team had acquired a copy of the elevator security video from the Revel Casino via subpoena. ESPN reports that Rice’s lawyer told Cass that what was on the video was “f—ing horrible” and it was apparent that “Ray knocked her the f— out.”

Cass reportedly never asked Diamondstein for a copy of the video — the NFL didn’t either — and instead continued to urge Rice’s defense team to gain acceptance for their client into a pretrial intervention program that would not only eliminate the possibility of prison time but prevent the elevator video from ever being made public.

ESPN cited four sources indicating that Ravens officials — including Bisciotti, Cass, and Newsome — continued to push for only a two-game suspension from NFL commissioner Roger Goodell in disciplining their star running back. The report also indicated that the organization believed Goodell had viewed the video, imploring Rice to tell the entire truth when he met with the commissioner in June.

Upon releasing Rice when the second video was released by TMZ on Sept. 8, Bisciotti sent Rice a text message stating the following:

Hey Ray, just want to let you know, we loved you as a player, it was great having you here. Hopefully all these things are going to die down. I wish the best for you and Janay.

When you’re done with football, I’d like you to know you have a job waiting for you with the Ravens helping young guys getting acclimated to the league.

In an interview with The Sun last week, Newsome maintained that Rice had told the truth about what was on the graphic video throughout the process while Cass and Bisciotti have indicated in interviews that his story didn’t necessarily align with what they saw on the video for the first time on the morning of Sept. 8.

In a press conference held earlier in the day in New York, Goodell reiterated that he mishandled the Rice case with the initial two-game suspension handed down on July 25.

“I got it wrong in the handling of the Ray Rice matter, and I’m sorry for that,” Goodell said. “The same mistakes can never be repeated.”

 

 

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Why People Need To Keep Quiet About Ray Rice

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Why People Need To Keep Quiet About Ray Rice

Posted on 08 September 2014 by Brandon Sacks

At this point, almost everyone has seen the video of Ray Rice knocking out his then-fiancée Janay Palmer.  Yes, it is absolutely disgusting that this would happen and that he would even swing at her.  There is no acceptable time for a man to ever place his hands on a woman.  As someone who has been a player of upstanding character until this incident broke, it came as surprising to see someone who’s cause is anti-bullying to do something like this.  That being said, there is a bigger problem here that needs to be addressed.  It is something that, quite frankly, is ridiculous, and people need to reevaluate themselves before uttering one more word about Ray Rice.

Where were you when other players did the exact same thing?

Ray Rice is not the only person that has been charged with domestic abuse since the end of the 2013 NFL season.  Why is no one saying anything about Ray McDonald being allowed to play even though he was charged with domestic assault? The same thing goes for Greg Hardy, who was convicted of assaulting his ex-girlfriend and threatening to kill her.  Ray Rice’s situation is completely the same aside from one small detail; Rice hit his fiancée, and it was caught on video.  However, that doesn’t make him any worse of a person because he was caught.  Hardy was convicted in a court of law, which means there was enough proof to warrant his peers believing he actually did assault his ex.  Hardy wasn’t cut by his team or suspended indefinitely.  Why was Rice?

What about other players that were charged with crimes but were never punished like this?  Staying within the organization, Ray Lewis was charged with murder and never ended up being suspended indefinitely by the league.  Donté Stallworth was charged with DUI manslaughter, and he was only suspended for a year from the NFL.  Ben Roethlisberger was accused of rape and he saw a suspension that lasted him a few games, and continues to play on the same team as before the accusations.  Michael Vick was convicted of running a dog fighting ring and was able to return to the field after serving his time in jail.  Chad Ochocinco was charged with domestic battery after headbutting his wife and was cut that same day by the Dolphins, but never received an NFL suspension for it.  Ahman Green, the Packers all-time leading rusher, was arrested for a domestic incident, but nothing ever came of this.

Why are any of these players any different than Ray Rice?  Of all of the players who laid their hands on women, why is it that Rice is the one that gets singled out?  What he did is not worse than anything those other “men” did, so it should not be treated as such.

In the age of social media where every single person thinks his/her opinion is the only correct one, people need to consider the bigger problem here.  The mob mentality that occurs with these kind of things is outrageous and needs to end.  Simply put by the NFL’s new domestic abuse policy, Rice should have been suspended for 6 games and not one more.  The Ravens still had the right to cut him, but Roger Goodell had no right to indefinitely suspend him.

All of the other previously mentioned players received second chances after resolving their off the field issues.  While Rice will not get one in Baltimore, he deserves one somewhere else.

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B&B Big Story Banter: Ray Rice Suspension & NFL Cultural Issue

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B&B Big Story Banter: Ray Rice Suspension & NFL Cultural Issue

Posted on 26 July 2014 by Brett Dickinson

It was bound to be a much talked about topic, but the NFL, the Ravens, Ray Rice and even sports media could not have expected the backlash after the two game suspension everyone has waited for.  The idea of this punishment being accepted in society, let alone in a private multi-billion dollar corporation, is downright appalling to anyone that has a functioning brain and a television.  But where does the real problem lie here? Obviously Rice has a major issue he should handle, which has been covered since day 1 of this incident. But this whole situation reeks of a much grander cultural issue in the NFL and sports in America.

To start, the main excuse for such a lenient reaction by  Commissioner Roger Goodell and the Ravens organization is that “he has never done anything wrong before” is blatantly asinine. All CRIMINALS HAVE A CLEAN TRACK RECORD BEFORE THEIR FIRST CRIME! Why does his past “good behavior” allow Rice to strike a woman? Why is anyone looking at his charitable endeavors as a reason that he should be given more leniency towards such a heinous act? Because he has performed well in the most popular sport in the country, all the while being a stand up citizen for his first six seasons, does not give him (or anyone) a pass on judgement.

Yet the NFL powers decided that knocking a woman unconscionable is only worthy of half the punishment for taking Adderall without clearance from the the league offices. Philadelphia Eagles offensive tackle Lane Jonhson was the last to receive a suspension by a league before Rice; four games for not reporting to the league that he was taking a prescription drug that contained a banned substance.

Any defense of Rice’s actions shows immaturity and undermines the moral fabric of the entire NFL fan base. The statement has arisen, “We don’t know if he did anything in that elevator.” Well we all certainly know what the police report says. It states that Rice struck his girlfriend using his hands. We all know that Rice himself felt the need to publicly apologize for his actions. I can’t remember the last time I apologized for not doing anything wrong. We all know that the NFL Commissioner had enough evidence to suspend Rice. There would certainly be a ensuing legal battle if he were innocent, yet still receive punishment.

Yet Baltimore Ravens head coach John Harbaugh wants to state that “[Ray Rice] is a good guy.” I’m sorry but when you find it necessary to use physical force against a woman than NO HE IS NOT! This simply proves the team (like the rest of the league) is just worried about winning and not HUMAN DECENCY. We have seen this in the past as the Ravens publicly backed the likes of Ray Lewis, Jamal Lewis, Chris McAlister and Terrell Suggs during their legal troubles. I guess that is why the team did not have the gumption to take action when they were handed all of the same evidence that led to this suspension. 

But in the end it is not Rice’s fault that the league office felt some sort of sympathy on his case.  And that is where the real issue comes to the forefront. The NFL has stood by its players to a fault; where well known and reported criminals can get away with breaking the law because they can play football.  The players have no recourse knowing that the league will let them back in with open arms no matter how despicable the act.

There were 19 arrests this off season (5 of which by those who play in Baltimore), yet many of those players will be allowed to go back to there daily lives and daily earnings without any repercussions what so ever.  Has anyone even mentioned throwing out a suspension for Deonte Thompson or Jah Reid or Lorenzo Talliferro or Jimmy Smith? NO!

And just maybe, if the NFL did put in a policy TO NOT GET ARRESTED or you will lose out on your livelihood, like they have with their substance abuse and performance enhancing drug policies, players would be less inclined to act like delinquents off the field. Maybe it is time for the NFL to take a stand against their EMPLOYEES ACTING AS CRIMINALS. Roger Goodell certainly had a chance to prove a point with Ray Rice and he missed terribly.

Now the court of public opinion is weighing down on the league and rightfully so, as the NFL’s culture of protecting its product has proven to outweigh the importance HUMAN DECENCY.  I dare anyone to go out, hit their wife in public or get arrested with multiple DUIs or get caught with illegal narcotics on several different occasions or any other crime and still be allowed to show their face at their place of business the next day.  So why does the most powerful sports league in the world just deem these actions as acceptable or commonplace?

After Goodell laid down this “punishment” on Ray Rice, I personally felt ashamed to consider myself a diehard fan of the NFL. It is an embarrassment for the NFL to consider its fan base so neanderthalic and stupid to not understand what is fair and just.

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Goodell says Rice’s conduct “unquestionably inconsistent” with league policies

Posted on 24 July 2014 by WNST Staff

PRESS RELEASE

COMMISSIONER ROGER GOODELL notified Baltimore Ravens running back RAY RICE today that he will be suspended without pay for the first two 2014 regular season games and fined an additional game check for conduct detrimental to the NFL in violation of the league’s Personal Conduct Policy for his February arrest.

In May, Rice resolved the charges by entering into a pretrial intervention program. Under this program, he will not be prosecuted and is not required to serve jail time or pay any fine. After one year, the charges will be expunged and will not be part of Rice’s record.

Following this agreement, Goodell met with Rice and his wife. Despite the court’s decision not to impose criminal punishment, the Commissioner determined, as he advised Rice, that the conduct was incompatible with NFL policies and warranted disciplinary action.

In a letter to Rice, Commissioner Goodell stated:

“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.

“You will be expected to continue to take advantage of the counseling and other professional services you identified during our meeting. As you noted, this additional assistance has been of significant benefit to you and your wife, and it should remain a part of your practice as appropriate.

“I believe that you are sincere in your desire to learn from this matter and move forward toward a healthy relationship and successful career. I am now focused on your actions and expect you to demonstrate by those actions that you are prepared to fulfill those expectations.”

Rice’s suspension will begin on August 30. He will be eligible for reinstatement on Monday, September 12 following the Ravens’ game against the Pittsburgh Steelers. Rice may participate in all aspects of training camp and preseason games.

Rice may appeal this decision within three days.

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Rice to be suspended for first two games of 2014 season

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Rice to be suspended for first two games of 2014 season

Posted on 24 July 2014 by Luke Jones

OWINGS MILLS, Md. — After months of speculation with varying opinions about his fate, Ravens running back Ray Rice will be suspended for the first two games of the 2014 season as punishment for a domestic violence incident that occurred in an Atlantic City casino in February.

The league officially announced its decision on Thursday afternoon as Rice was punished for “conduct detrimental to the NFL in violation of the league’s personal conduct policy.” Commissioner Roger Goodell said in a letter that Rice’s conduct “was unquestionably inconsistent with league polices and the standard of behavior required of everyone who is part of the NFL.”

Rice was fined a game check — which is reportedly calculated from his 2013 base salary of $1 million — in addition to the salary he’ll lose during the two-game suspension without pay, bringing his total lost compensation to roughly $529,000. He will be unavailable as the Ravens open their season against the Cincinnati Bengals at M&T Bank Stadium on Sept. 7 and welcome the Pittsburgh Steelers to Baltimore four days later for a Thursday night game.

“It is disappointing that I will not be with my teammates for the first two games of the season, but that’s my fault,” Rice said in a statement released by the Ravens. “As I said earlier, I failed in many ways. But, 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.”

“My goal is to earn back the trust of the people, especially the children, I let down because of this incident. I am a role model and I take that responsibility seriously. My actions going forward will show that.”

Baltimore will be able to replace Rice on the 53-man roster while he’s suspended. The running back will be allowed to participate in all aspects of training camp and in preseason games before beginning his suspension on Aug. 30.

The 27-year-old running back and his wife met with Goodell in New York last month, leading many to assume a ruling on a potential suspension would come before the start of camp as the Ravens try to rebound from an 8-8 season that saw them miss the postseason for the first time since 2007. In the spring, Rice pleaded not guilty to a third-degree charge of aggravated assault and was accepted into a pretrial intervention program after allegedly striking his fiancee and rendering her unconscious at the Revel Casino on February 15.

“We appreciate the thorough process the league office used to evaluate the incident with Ray Rice,” general manager Ozzie Newsome said in a statement. “The time the commissioner spent with Ray and Janay is typical of the extra steps the NFL takes when making decisions regarding discipline issues. 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.

“We also respect the efforts Ray has made to become the best partner and father he can be. That night was not typical of the Ray Rice we know and respect. We believe that he will not let that one night define who he is, and he is determined to make sure something like this never happens again.”

The news was met with much criticism on Thursday as many believed the NFL is taking too soft of a stance on domestic violence. The Ravens have stood firm in their support for Rice throughout the process and never wavered in expressing their positive feelings toward him, regularly pointing out his pristine record and reputation prior to the February incident.

Head coach John Harbaugh said earlier in the week that Rice’s suspension would not impact his team’s preparations in training camp until after the second preseason game. He reiterated that idea on Thursday, adding that the organization has already moved on from a football standpoint.

“It’s really not a big deal. It’s just part of the process,” Harbaugh said. “We said from the beginning the circumstances would determine the consequences. There are consequences when you make a mistake like that. I stand behind Ray — he’s a heck of a guy. He’s done everything right since. He makes a mistake; he’s going to have to pay a consequence. That’s good for kids to understand that it works that way. That’s how it works. That’s how it should be, and we’ll move forward.

“Ray will be back when the time comes. It’s not something that we’re dwelling on; it’s just that we’re not worrying about it. [We're] moving forward.”

Primary backup Bernard Pierce, veteran newcomer Justin Forsett, and 2014 fourth-round pick Lorenzo Taliaferro are expected to compete for more reps while Rice serves his suspension.

 

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Extra point, kickoff adjustments among NFL’s proposed rules changes

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Extra point, kickoff adjustments among NFL’s proposed rules changes

Posted on 19 March 2014 by Luke Jones

The NFL will discuss a collection of proposed rules changes at next week’s league meetings in Orlando, Fla. with alterations to both extra points and kickoffs likely to garner the most attention.

As has been speculated and debated for the last couple months, a proposal to move the extra point from the 2 to the 25-yard line is on the table for owners to potentially approve, which would dramatically change how the game is played. The change was proposed by New England and is intended to make the try kick “a more competitive play” but will also likely lead to more two-point conversions attempts, which would still take place from the 2-yard line.

The competition committee has also proposed a vote on whether to move kickoffs up to the 40-yard line just three years after they were moved from the 30 to the 35. Of course, this change is suggested to improve player safety but will lead to even fewer kickoff returns. This idea was submitted by Washington and would be viewed as another step toward devaluing special teams.

Of course, it’s important to remember none of the proposed changes are official and must receive approval from at least 24 of the 32 owners, who will vote on the potential rules changes next week.

After much discussion, the competition committee determined that the power to penalize players for using racial or homophobic slurs is already with the officials through use of the unsportsmanlike conduct penalty. This is expected to be a major point of emphasis next season that will be reiterated with players when NFL officials meet with them during training camp as they do every year.

The owners are also expected to continue discussing the possibility of expanding the playoff field for the 2015 season and could even vote next week, but there was no formal proposal submitted by the competition committee. This expansion would include one extra playoff team in each conference, which would eliminate a bye in each conference and create a total of six wild-card games over the first weekend of the postseason.

If a 14-team playoff format had been implemented over the last five years, three 10-6 teams, four 9-7 teams, and three 8-8 teams would have been the additional qualifiers for postseason play.

In all, there are 13 proposed rules changes, seven potential alterations to league by-laws, and one proposed resolution up for vote.

Here is a brief rundown of the other proposed changes on the table for next week:

- Subject personal foul penalties to instant replay review

- Eliminate overtime periods in preseason games

- Extend the uprights of the goalposts an additional five feet above the crossbar

- Place fixed cameras on all boundary lines to supplement television cameras for the instant replay system

- Allow coaches to use replay challenges on a bigger array of plays.

- Alter rules to include penalties for blockers who roll up on the side of defensive players’ legs.

- Permit the referee to consult with members of the league officiating department during replay reviews.

- Expand reviewable plays to include the recovery of a loose ball in the field of play.

- Allow the game clock to continue running after a quarterback sack as it currently does inside two minutes remaining in either half.

- Make the pass interference line at the line of scrimmage instead of one yards beyond the line of scrimmage to cut down on rubs and pick plays by the offense.

- Change the spot where defensive fouls behind the line of scrimmage are enforced.

- Increase the game-day roster from 46 to 49 players for any games not played on Sundays or Mondays other than the opening weekend of the season.

- Raise the practice squad limit from eight to 10 players.

- Allow clubs to trade players beginning 14 days before the start of the new league year.

- Eliminate the initial preseason cut from 90 to 75 players and simply require teams to trim their preseason roster from 90 to 53 at the conclusion of the preseason.

- Permit more than one player to be placed on injured reserve with the designation to return.

- Allow additional testing of eligible players leading up to the draft.

- Move final roster cuts for the regular season from 6 p.m. to 4 p.m. on the final Saturday of the preseason when no games take place on that Friday.

- Allow teams to open or close a retractable roof at halftime of a contest.

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Wake me up when Goodell and NFL get it right with “Sideline-Gate”

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Wake me up when Goodell and NFL get it right with “Sideline-Gate”

Posted on 02 December 2013 by Drew Forrester

Our very own Thyrl Nelson beat me to it with THIS WELL-WRITTEN PIECE at WNST.net, so I’ll bow to him as being “first in” on the topic of whether or not the NFL is overreacting on “Sideline-Gate”.

Thyrl is right.

This is a major overreaction on the part of Roger Goodell and the NFL if, in fact, it turns out they take away a draft pick from the Pittsburgh Steelers as a result of Mike Tomlin stepping on the field during last Thursday’s game.

Fine? Sure. Make it $100,000 and give the money to the Orioles so they can sign a real baseball player.

Suspension?  OK.  Probably wouldn’t be that crazy to tell Tomlin to take a seat for a game or two.

Take away a draft pick?  Absolutely not.

Hell, why not just send him to jail for six months?  That’ll teach him.

The problem in Baltimore — as I see it, personally — is that this whole fiasco involves the Steelers.  As Thyrl noted, we’re all conditioned here in Charm City to hate all things Pittsburgh, so when something like what happened on Thursday takes place and it involves the Steelers, we’re foaming at the mouth before the clock strikes midnight.

If that would have been (I’m completely blanking out here…who DOES coach the Browns?) Rob Chudzinski on Thursday night, we wouldn’t give a flying-eff about it.  And you know that’s true, so please don’t tell me “yes we would!”.

I know this: If “Sideline-Gate” would have happened in yesterday’s Buffalo-Atlanta game, no one would care.  It would be a footnote on Deadspin…and that’s about it.

This was about the game being on national TV, Thursday night, Thanksgiving, Baltimore vs. Pittsburgh, etc.

My contention since the whole thing happened hasn’t changed at all.  What Tomlin did on Thursday night didn’t affect the outcome of the game.  And, while most of us (me, for sure) believe his side-step to the right was an intentional motion to try and disrupt Jacoby Jones’ path down the sideline, I also have to admit – for sure – that we really don’t know the truth.  We can only suspect.

I’ll reiterate one more time — what Mike Tomlin did was wrong.  It obviously SHOULD have been penalized on the spot.  It should result in some sort of penalty once the league has come up with all the facts as they see them.  But, that penalty should be consistent with any other penalty that comes with an infraction that DIDN’T CHANGE THE OUTCOME OF THE GAME.

Yes, Tomlin’s move on Thursday night COULD have changed the outcome, sure.  And, so could poisoning the other team’s sports drink.  What would the penalty be, let’s say, if two equipment managers for (team X) were caught on camera or hidden mic discussing poisoning the other team’s sports drink during halftime — only to have it confirmed later on that it didn’t actually happen?

There’s a huge difference between something that COULD have changed the outcome of the game and something that actually DID change the outcome.

Oh, and please don’t talk to me about gambling and the point-spread and all of that other stuff.  The league itself is only concerned with the result of the football game.  Only us degenerate gamblers are worried about the “final score” of the game.

By the way, where’s the outrage from the league and fans on the referee crew from Thursday night?  Talk about “influencing the outcome”…what were those clowns watching as Tomlin pulled his silly stunt?  No flag?  Nothing?  Useless…all of them.

The refs SHOULD have gathered after Jacoby Jones was tackled and said to themselves, “OK, let’s make sure we handle this right. The rules allow for us to grant Baltimore a touchdown.  And we can also kick Tomlin out of the game if we feel it was that egregious.”

They then could have made a decision based on the rule book.  And, if they WOULD have granted Baltimore a TD (possibly fair) and kicked Tomlin out of the game (possibly fair), the whole thing wouldn’t be an issue of this magnitude five days later.

The NFL has done a GREAT job of making the fans forget that their referee crew COMPLETELY botched the events of Thursday night.

So, Thryl, congratulations on beating me to the punch.

You’re right, this talk about taking away a draft pick from the Steelers is insanely out-of-bounds.

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Former Terp White among Hall of Famers in head injury letter to Goodell

Posted on 01 August 2013 by WNST Staff

(AP) Seventeen Pro Football Hall of Famers and Dave Robinson, who will be inducted this weekend, have signed a letter telling NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell they are concerned about medical care for former players and the league’s “continued denial of the link between repeated head impacts and permanent brain damage.”

The letter, obtained by The Associated Press on Wednesday and signed by NFL greats including Tony Dorsett, Floyd Little, Leroy Kelly and Paul Krause, comes just a few days ahead of the Hall of Fame festivities in Canton, Ohio.

The league is being sued by about 4,200 players who say they suffer from dementia, Alzheimer’s disease and other neurological conditions, which they believe stem from on-field concussions. Ten of the letter’s signees are plaintiffs in the ongoing legal fight: Dorsett, Kelly, Krause, Lem Barney, Chris Doleman, Mel Renfro, Tommy McDonald, Randy White, Rayfield Wright and Joe DeLamielleure.

Goodell and the NFL insist that player safety has always been a top priority, and league spokesman Greg Aiello told the AP in an email Wednesday night that the players don’t have their facts right.

“We have not seen the letter, but we make no such denial regarding concussions,” Aiello said. “In fact, our concussion poster for players in every locker room, created in conjunction with the CDC a few years ago, states: `Repetitive brain injury, when not managed promptly and properly, may cause permanent damage to your brain.’”

In the concussion legal dispute, a federal judge in Philadelphia has ordered the two sides into mediation over how the complaints will be litigated — in court or in arbitration. U.S. District Judge Anita B. Brody asked for a progress report by Sept. 3 and put a gag order on the lawyers involved.

Clearly, there was no silencing of the Hall of Famers, many of whom plan to be in Canton for the 50th anniversary of the football shrine.

“Legions of former players suffer short-term memory loss and other neurological issues, and many cannot even remember taking part in some of the NFL’s greatest moments,” they wrote to Goodell. “In the meantime, the NFL publicly touts the `benefits’ it provides to former players with brain injuries, while denying these players necessary medical monitoring, long-term care, and security.

“No one wants to see another generation of players suffer this fate. As former players, we refuse to stand by quietly and watch men who unknowingly sacrificed their health and future to the NFL go without the care they desperately need.

“Mr. Goodell, we ask you, as the commissioner of the league, to provide the security and care all former players and their families deserve.”

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