Rice can return to football

FILE - In this May 23, 2014, file photo, Baltimore Ravens running back Ray Rice pauses as he speaks during a news conference at the team's practice facility in Owings Mills, Md. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky, File)

NEW YORK (AP) — Ray Rice has won the appeal of his indefinite suspension by the NFL.

An arbitrator ruled Friday that his suspension should be vacated immediately. Former U.S. District Judge Barbara S. Jones said Commissioner Roger Goodell’s decision in September to change Rice’s original suspension from two games to indefinite was “arbitrary.”

Jones was deciding whether the NFL overstepped its authority in modifying Rice’s two-game suspension after video of the Baltimore Ravens running back punching his fiancee— now his wife, Janay — became public.

Rice was released by the Ravens when the video went public. Rice and the union claimed he was essentially sentenced twice.

In her decision, Jones wrote:

“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. 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.”

The NFL did not immediately comment on Jones’ decision.

The Rices testified at the hearing, as did NFL security chief Jeffrey Miller and Ravens general manager Ozzie Newsome.

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