NFL commissioner Roger Goodell must testify in Ray Rice's appeal of his indefinite suspension for domestic violence - and sources familiar with the ruling Wednesday night told NBC News that two Baltimore Ravens executives will also be forced to appear. Like Goodell, Ravens’ president Dick Cass and general manager Ozzie Newsome may be cross-examined by Rice's lawyer at the hearing, U.S. District Judge Barbara S. Jones ruled.
Ex-Ravens running back Rice was caught on video punching his then-fiancée in the face during an incident in a casino hotel elevator in February. The players’ union appealed his punishment, saying the 2008 second-round draft pick was owed due process and a fair hearing.
Rice’s camp insists the NFL punished Rice twice for the same offense – first for two games, then again with the suspension after the video of the attack became public. Rice says that he told Goodell about the incident in June but Goodell insists Rice’s story was “ambiguous.”
Lisa Friel, the former New York City sex crimes prosecutor hired by the NFL to overhaul the league’s domestic violence policies, said banning players for first-time offenses would be counter-productive.
“I think if you talk to any expert in this field, they'll tell you that would be a very, very bad idea,” she told NBC News, “because nobody'll report if that happens. These are under-reported crimes as it is and that will only discourage reporting. And I think we need to have an opportunity for people to have a second chance. To earn their way back into … being on the field and playing.”
Rice will also testify at the hearing, which is set for Nov. 5 and 6.
- Peter Alexander