NFL Players Union Grudgingly Appeals Ray Rice Case

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SAN DIEGO, CA - NOVEMBER 25: Runningback Ray Rice #27 of the Baltimore Ravens warms up on the field before his team's game against the San Diego Chargers on November 25, 2012 at Qualcomm Stadium in San Diego, California. (Photo by Donald Miralle/Getty Images)
Photo: Donald Miralle/2012 Getty Images

The NFL Players Association finally filed their appeal of Ray Rice’s indefinite suspension on Tuesday night, but emphasized that they’re only defending a man who knocked out his wife in a elevator because that’s their job. “When we look at facts and reach a determination that there are appropriate grounds to appeal any decision — any disciplinary decision — that is the role of the union, that’s the duty of the union. And we really don’t shy away from that duty at all,” DeMaurice Smith, executive director of the NFLPA, told CBS News. “Public outrage notwithstanding, it’s part of my legal training … to understand that everybody has due process rights.” So please keep directing those angry comments to NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell, not to the union!

Goodell suspended the Baltimore Ravens running back for two games in July, then admitted he “didn’t get it right” and put him on indefinite suspension after TMZ released video of the incident. The union said it needs to “protect the due process rights of all NFL players,” as this sets a precedent that players can be punished twice for the same incident.

The NFL is expected to argue that Rice was punished for two separate offenses: first, for the domestic violence incident; and then, for lying about it to NFL officials. Many have suggested that the NFL had all the facts when Rice was first sentenced, and the union noted that “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.”

Usually, Goodell would handle appeals of discipline under the personal conduct policy, but the NFLPA has asked for a “neutral and jointly selected arbitrator,” as they believe the controversial commissioner’s process was not “fair and impartial,” and he and his staff will be “essential witnesses in the proceeding.”