Ray Rice, accused of domestic violence, won his appeal Friday and has been reinstated to the National Football League, according to reports. The former Baltimore Ravens running back was put on an indefinite suspension from the NFL in September after a video of him beating his then-fiancée was made public. The two later got married.
Rice later issued a statement, reported by NBC Chicago:
"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 mistake."
This was Rice’s second suspension over the incident and it hinged on the league’s accusation that he did not disclose all the facts. He was first suspended for two games prior to the video’s public release. Former U.S. District Court Judge Barbara Jones heard the appeal and concluded that there was not enough evidence to prove he had lied to the NFL, according to the Wall Street Journal. Rice is now legally allowed to join any team in the league.
“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,” according to Jones’ decision via ESPN. “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 said it had not seen the videotape prior to its release on the gossip website TMZ and thus was not aware of the severity of Rice’s actions, according to Yahoo Sports. However, at his appeal hearing this November, Rice said the league knew all the facts and that his second – more stringent -- suspension was double jeopardy.
Janay Rice, the victim and now wife, said she did not remember the events from the video, the Wall Street Journal reported. She lost consciousness after Rice punched her.
Though he is legally eligible, it is unclear if any team will sign Rice given that there is only a month left to the season. However, the NFL reportedly does not intend to take further action against Rice.
"We, of course, accept the ruling as binding," An NFL spokesman told ESPN's Andrew Brandt.