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Ravens cut Ray Rice in wake of latest domestic violence video; NFL suspends him indefinitely

The Baltimore Ravens cut Ray Rice, hours after new video of his domestic violence incident surfaced on TMZ and, shortly afterward, the NFL suspended him indefinitely.

The team announced the decision on its Twitter feed Monday afternoon. Rice, the Ravens’ 27-year-old running back, was serving a two-game suspension stemming from the domestic-violence incident involving his then-fiancee in the elevator of an Atlantic City casino last winter. In video that was posted by TMZ shortly after the incident, Rice could be seen dragging the unconscious Janay Palmer, now his wife, from the elevator. On Monday morning, TMZ posted another video showing the actual punch. A social media storm ensued and the Ravens took action hours later.

Rice, who pleaded guilty to a third-degree aggravated assault charge, entered a pretrial diversion program and is undergoing counseling. He and Palmer, whom he married not long after the incident, held a joint press conference in May in which she said she regretted her role in the incident. After his suspension was announced in July and drew a storm of criticism for its length in comparison to drug infractions, Rice apologized, saying, “I made the biggest mistake of my life. I want to own it.”

[Related: NFL players, broadcasters react to Rice release and suspension]

Although he initially defended the punishment given Rice, Commissioner Roger Goodell reversed course on Aug. 28, announcing a strict new conduct policy for domestic violence offenders. “I didn’t get it right,” he wrote in a letter to NFL owners. “Simply put, we have to do better. And we will.”

Players involved in future domestic violence cases will be subject to a six-game suspension for a first offense and a lifetime ban for a repeat offense. A repeat offender would be permitted to apply for reinstatement to the league after one year.

“After seeing the shocking video of Ray Rice beating his fiancee, it’s appalling that the criminal justice system in New Jersey essentially gave him a free pass,” Becky Bond, political director of CREDO, said in an email. “The NFL did the right thing and suspended Ray Rice from football, but we have a long way to go in solving our nation’s violence against
women problem.”

Rice missed the Ravens’ season-opening loss Sunday to the Cincinnati Bengals and was to have missed Thursday night’s game against Pittsburgh. He was to have rejoined the team Friday and now is a free agent, able to play for another NFL team following his suspension. At this point, that seems like a distant possibility.

Until Monday, the Ravens were staunchly in Rice’s corner. Players stood in support during his press conference in July and owner Steve Bisciotti said, “I don’t think now is the time to abandon him.” Coach John Harbaugh echoed that. “I stand behind Ray — he’s a heck of a guy.”

On Monday, that changed.

“There’s no place for that, striking a woman like that,” a former teammate, Michael Oher, said. “I saw the video.”

More on Ray Rice

NFL says it had not seen new video:

The NFL said Monday that league officials had not seen a graphic video said to depict the February domestic violence incident involving Baltimore Ravens running back Ray Rice and his then-fiancee in Atlantic City before making a decision on Rice’s widely criticized two-game suspension.

NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell has since called the duration of the suspension a mistake while toughening the sport’s penalties for future domestic violence offenders. It was not immediately clear if the NFL would consider revisiting its disciplinary action against Rice in the aftermath of the video’s release Monday by TMZ.

Sally Jenkins:

About Roger Goodell’s raised consciousness. About the NFL commissioner’s seemingly unbidden turnabout on the subject of domestic violence, his uncharacteristic admission that he “didn’t get it right” when he suspended ex-Baltimore Ravens running back Ray Rice only two games for socking his fiancé unconscious, while throwing the book at marijuana tokers. About the curious timing of Goodell’s much-congratulated epiphany, and the Ravens’ sudden moral outrage, and the appearance of that stomach-heave inducing elevator video on TMZ, in which Rice decks his bride so hard she drops like a piece of lost luggage from an airplane bay.

The Ravens promptly terminated Rice’s contract on Monday and Goodell, ever in pursuit of a stainless suit-coat, reopened the case and suspended Rice indefinitely under his revised policy on domestic assault, given this graphic “new” evidence. But really, what did Goodell and the Ravens think a professional football player knocking his wife unconscious looked like?

NFL players react to video:

The discussion over the NFL’s controversial decision to suspend Baltimore Ravens running back Ray Rice for just two games was reopened Monday, when a new video surfaced of the domestic violence incident. The video, leaked to TMZ, shows Rice knocking out his then-fiance, now-wife in an Atlantic City elevator. Previously, the only video made public was the aftermath of Rice’s actions — his wife being pulled out of the elevator unconscious.

A lot of NFL players — both current and former — weren’t happy then, but now, several are outraged and they’re making their grievances public by taking to Twitter to condemn Rice and the league for failing to provide what they see as a punishment that fits the now very evident crime.

Some within NFL believe league erred on punishment:

The NFL’s decision to suspend Baltimore Ravens running back Ray Rice for two games for a domestic violence incident involving his now-wife has focused sharp criticism on the league and Commissioner Roger Goodell for a penalty that many considered too lenient.

While the league has defended its action and there is a measure of support for it within the NFL, particularly inside the Ravens organization, some of those in and around the sport say the public outcry over the issue is understandable and meaningful.

Ray Rice gets standing ovation:

There has been an interesting distinction in the debate and furor that arose last week when Ray Rice was given a two-game suspension by the NFL because of an offseason domestic violence incidence involving his now-wife Janay.

Video of the incident was disturbing, but the primary outrage was directed at the NFL for what was deemed to be an insufficient suspension, one inconsistent with others handed down, rather than Rice. That didn’t change Monday when the running back took the field at the Baltimore Ravens’ first open practice of training camp.

Rice, always a popular player, was cheered repeatedly by fans when he was shown on the big screen at M&T Bank Stadium and was given a standing ovation when he raced a child along the sidelines.

Does NFL have a women problem?

The NFL sent a message with its latest disciplinary move, suspending Baltimore Ravens running back Ray Rice because of a domestic incident that it deems to be a violation of its personal conduct policy. Unfortunately, the recipients of Commissioner Roger Goodell’s message are women.

Rice was suspended the first two games of the season after a February incident in which he allegedly knocked his then-fiancée unconscious in the elevator of an Atlantic City casino. The incident was captured on disturbing video and Rice entered a not-guilty plea to a third-degree charge of aggravated assault. He avoided trial by being accepted into a pretrial intervention program in May. The following month, he met with Goodell, who can use the league’s personal-conduct policy to suspend players even if they are not charged or convicted of a crime.