Baltimore Ravens running back Ray Rice was suspended indefinitely by the NFL on Monday, with the Ravens terminating his contract just hours after a graphic new video was released by TMZ of Rice striking his then-fiancée in an Atlantic City hotel elevator in February.
The video shows Rice in a tussle with Janay Palmer. After a physical exchange, Rice knocks Palmer into the railing, and she appears to lose consciousness. Rice is then seen dragging Palmer out of the elevator. The Ravens said they had not seen the video prior to Monday. Meanwhile, Rice was set to return to the team Friday after serving his two-game suspension.
There are steep financial reprecussions to the new video for Rice. The initial suspension was expected to cost him roughly $470,588. By terminating the contract, the Ravens will not owe Rice any money.
The 27-year-old was set to enter his seventh season with the Ravens in 2014, after signing a five-year deal worth $40 million in July 2012. He had three years left on his contract, which would have paid him $4 million in 2014, $3 million in 2015 and $3 million in 2016.
Rice is a three-time Pro Bowler and considered among the best rushers in the league. It appears highly unlikely Rice will play for any team this season, as the league could extend his suspension to all of 2014. He could also face a hefty fine on top of the $58,823 he received in July.
The NFL Players Association had no comment on the termination. The NFL had not seen the video. The league responded on Twitter that Rice would be suspended indefinitely.
"We requested from law enforcement any and all information about the incident, including the video from inside the elevator. That video was not made available to us and no one in our office has seen it until today," the NFL said in a statement.
NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell came under heavy criticism for his relatively lenient two-game suspension of Rice in July. Goodell publicly regretted his handling of the Rice’s initial suspension, saying he “didn’t get it right.” There was outcry against Goodell for how players were suspended for six games for performance-enhancing drug violations, and an entire season for repeat offenses of smoking marijuana.
"My disciplinary decision led the public to question our sincerity, our commitment, and whether we understood the toll that domestic violence inflicts on so many families," Goodell wrote in an August statement. "I take responsibility both for the decision and for ensuring that our actions in the future properly reflect our values. I didn't get it right. Simply put, we have to do better. And we will."
After harsh responses over Rice's initial suspension, Goodell announced tougher penalties for domestic violence cases. In such cases, a player "will be subject to a suspension without pay of six games for a first offense." A second offense will receive a minimum one-year suspension.
In March, Rice was charged with felony aggravated assault, but avoided jail time by enrolling in a pretrial intervention program. Rice and Palmer married on March 29.