Beleaguered NFL commissioner Roger Goodell took the stand for more than two hours on Wednesday as the first witness called to testify in Ray Rice’s appeal hearing stemming from his ongoing suspension following domestic abuse related charges.
While the nature of Goodell’s testimony was not made public, ESPN reported the eighth-year commissioner took the stand after opening statements were given by the NFL and players’ union reps working on Rice’s behalf.
Rice was suspended indefinitely back on Sept. 8 after video of him striking his then fiancé in the elevator of an Atlantic City casino was made public. Later that same day, the Baltimore Ravens announced they were severing all ties with the 27-year-old, six-year veteran.
Now married, Rice and his wife, Janay, both intently looked on during Wednesday’s proceedings and are expected to separately testify sometime during the trial, perhaps as early as Thursday.
U.S. District Judge Barbara S. Jones is expected to render her decision soon after all the testimony is heard, with reps for the former Pro Bowler openly angling to have him immediately reinstated.
Initially, Goodell announced that Rice would serve a two game suspension but changed his mind after the video was made public, an act reps for Rice contend amounts to their client being punished more than once for the same violation.
Rice has also filed a separate grievance against the Baltimore Ravens, charging their move to terminate the last three-years of his remaining 10-year deal is also a violation of the league’s contract policy. As part of his grievance, Rice is seeking to be compensated for all the games he has been forced to sit out.
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