UDPATE: Ray Rice comments on winning appeal

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Ray Rice has won his appeal of an indefinite suspension and will be reinstated to the NFL. Rice was suspended indefinitely in September for violating the NFL’s personal conduct policy after a video of him hitting his then fiancee surfaced. The incident happened inside a hotel elevator in Atlantic City, New Jersey in February. NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell had initially suspended the running back for two games, then changed the length of the suspension.

Statement from Ray Rice:

“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.”

Statement from NFL Players Association:

“This decision is a victory for a disciplinary process that is fair and transparent. This union will always stand up and fight for the due process rights of our players. 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. It is clear that this decision should force the NFL to embrace neutral arbitration as part of a necessary due process in all cases. The players thank Judge Barbara Jones for her time and thoroughness in this matter.”

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(CNN) — Former Baltimore Ravens running back Ray Rice has won his appeal of his indefinite suspension by the NFL, the players union said Friday.

“The suspension has been vacated,” George Atallah, the assistant executive director of external affairs for the players union, said.

Former U.S. District Judge Barbara Jones, a neutral arbitrator, presided over Rice’s appeal hearing in New York earlier this month.

Her decision means Rice is immediately able to play.

In September, hours after the Ravens cut Rice, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell lengthened Rice’s suspension from two games to an indefinite period.

“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. I therefore vacate the second penalty imposed on Rice,” Jones wrote in her decision.

Provisions of the initial suspension — which include counseling, not getting in legal trouble again and not getting in trouble with the NFL again — still stand, she wrote. The two-game suspension would have ended in September.

“If a team wanted to sign him and put him on the field that could happen but we’re not expecting that to occur any time soon,” CNN’s Rachel Nichols said. “If you’re a team that needs a running back, are you going to sign Ray Rice knowing the backlash against him, knowing how people in the public feel about it?”

Rice, 27, was cut by the Ravens in September, so he is currently a free agent.

The former Ravens star had his contract terminated by the team in the wake of the disturbing video that shows him knocking out his now-wife, Janay Rice, on an elevator in a casino in Atlantic City on February 15.

CNN left messages for Jones, the NFL and Rice’s agent, but didn’t immediately hear back.

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