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Ex-Baltimore Ravens running back Ray Rice can return to the NFL after his indefinite suspension was overturned in arbitration Friday. A judge disagreed with the league's claim that he failed to reveal the extent of a February assault on his now-wife in a casino elevator. The attack was caught on video and leaked to the public, leading NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell to penalize Rice and the Ravens to drop him amid the fallout.
"I am not persuaded that Rice lied to, or misled, the NFL at his June interview, I find that the indefinite suspension was an abuse of discretion and must be vacated," Judge Barbara Jones wrote in her summary decision, which was made available Friday.
The ruling is a major setback for Goodell, who has been criticized for his handling of the case and not doing enough to punish players found guilty of domestic violence. Initially, Rice was only suspended for two games.
Rice, 27, thanked Jones, the players' union, his loved ones and his wife, Janay, for sticking by his side. "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," he said in a statement. "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."
Rice has filed a grievance against the Ravens for terminating him. The NFL said it respects the judge's ruling and that Rice, who is now a free agent, is eligible to be signed by any team that wants him.
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