• Share
  • Tweet
  • Share
Ray Rice

Rob Carr/Getty Images

Ray Rice, the former Baltimore Ravens running back who was suspended indefinitely from the NFL after video of him hitting his wife surfaced online, has won his appeal and is eligible to play again.

Rice was initially only given a two game suspension after he was arrested for abusing his wife (then fiancée) Janay Rice back in February, but when video emerged online of the brutal attack in September, NFL commissioner Roger Goodell claimed that he had never seen the video and that it contained new information not initially disclosed by Rice.

Rice was then dropped from the Ravens and suspended indefinitely from the NFL. 

The NFL Players Association filed an appeal, claiming that he was being punished twice for the same crime, as Rice insisted that he never misled the NFL regarding what happened in the elevator.

On Friday, U.S. District Judge Barbara S. Jones ruled that Rice had been telling the truth in the initial meeting about his arrest and should not have been punished a second time.

Ray Rice, Janay Palmer

Rob Carr/Getty Images

"Because Rice did not mislead the commissioner and because there were no new facts on which the commissioner could base his increased suspension, I find that the imposition of the indefinite suspension was arbitrary," Jones wrote in her decision. "The provisions of the first discipline—those regarding making continued use of counseling and other professional services, having no further involvement with law enforcement, and not committing any additional violations of league policies—still stand."

Ray Rice released a statement regarding his reinstatement to the NFL:

"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." 

While this decision means that Rice is now eligible to play in the NFL, a 'team would still have to make the decision to put him on their team. 

"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," Brian McCarthy, VP of Communications for the NFL, said in a statement. "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."

Roger Goodell, NFL

Elsa/Getty Images

Commissioner Goodell and the NFL received major criticism for handing Rice such a light sentenced in the first place, and he later admitted in a memo to team owners that he "didn't get it right."

"This decision is a victory for a disciplinary process that is fair and transparent," the NFLPA said in a statement. "While we take no pleasure in seeing a decision that confirms what we have been saying about the Commissioner's office acting arbitrarily, we hope that this will bring the NFL owners to the collective bargaining table to fix a broken process."

For more information on domestic abuse or to get help for yourself or someone you love, visit the website for The National Domestic Violence Hotline or call 1-800-799-7233.

PHOTOS: Biggest sports scandals