National Football League Commissioner Roger Goodell will be forced to testify in Ray Rice's appeal of his indefinite suspension, ESPN reported Wednesday. The former Baltimore Ravens running back punched his then-fiancée in an Atlantic City elevator in February, igniting a national backlash after TMZ leaked footage of the incident.
The hearing will take place Nov. 5 and Nov. 6, ESPN wrote, citing multiple media reports.
Rice was suspended on Sept. 8 for violating the NFL’s personal conduct policy, but only after the public saw the video. Originally, the football player was only suspended for two games.
After the footage went viral, the Ravens cut the NFL star, and the league banned him from the sport indefinitely. The league maintains that it never saw the second tape until the public saw it, considered it new evidence and therefore extended his suspension.
The players’ union, however, claimed that Rice was denied due process and should not be penalized twice. As a result, they are appealing the indefinite suspension.
"Under governing labor law, an employee cannot be punished twice for the same action when all of the relevant facts were available to the employer at the time of the first punishment,” the NFLPA said in the appeal, CBS Sports wrote.
#breaking Arbitrator in Ray Rice case rules that NFL Commissioner Goodell will be compelled to testify at appeal hearing.
— Peter Alexander (@PeterAlexander) October 23, 2014
Former U.S. District Judge Barbara S. Jones will preside over the hearing, ESPN said. She was chosen by the commissioner and the players’ union as a neutral arbitrator.
If she rules in favor of Rice, he could return to the league this season -- if a team wants to sign him, NBC News reported. But it probably wouldn’t be the Ravens. Rice filed a grievance against his former team to try to recoup the more than $3.5 million in salary he lost.
Until Wednesday, it wasn’t known if Goodell would testify. "I don't think that's my decision," Goodell said, when asked if he would testify at the hearing during an Oct. 8 press conference, according to CBS Sports. "I think Judge Jones is the one who ultimately is going to make the rules and determinations. I've been in meetings all day. That isn't something that I've addressed."
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