Ray Rice cut by Ravens, suspended by NFL indefinitely
OWINGS MILLS, Md. – Ray Rice won't get another chance with the Baltimore Ravens after all. There's no guarantee he gets another chance from the NFL either.
The Ravens announced they've terminated Rice's contract Monday afternoon, hours after TMZ.com posted video of the embattled running back punching his then-fiancée during an altercation at an Atlantic City hotel in February.
A short time later, NFL commissioner Roger Goodell announced he has indefinitely suspended Rice based on the new video evidence, which figured to scare off any team that might have contemplated signing him anyway.
NFL spokesman Greg Aiello wouldn't say if Rice's ban is for a minimum of one year before he can apply for reinstatement under terms of the enhanced personal conduct policy Goodell announced last month in response to public outcry over Rice being suspended just two games.
"It's indefinite," Aiello wrote in an email to USA TODAY Sports.
For months, the Ravens had firmly supported Rice, 27, who was allowed to enter a pretrial intervention program that will dismiss the third-degree aggravated assault charge against him upon completion.
But that was before TMZ released disturbing video Monday morning of Rice punching Janay Palmer, who is now his wife. TMZ had originally posted video of Rice dragging Palmer's unconscious body out of the elevator.
The Ravens did not immediately offer any other details beyond the announcement on its Twitter account. Coach John Harbaugh was scheduled to speak with reporters around 8 p.m. Monday.
"I stand behind Ray (Rice) – he's a heck of a guy," Harbaugh said July 24, before Rice's original two-game suspension was announced. "He's done everything right since (the incident). He makes a mistake. He's going to have to pay a consequence."
Earlier Monday, the NFL said in a statement it did not have access to the video of the assault during its investigation.
"We requested from law enforcement any and all information about the incident, including the video from inside the elevator," the statement said. "That video was not made available to us and no one in our office has seen it until today."
Goodell's letter to NFL owners Aug. 28 announced new, standardized penalties for domestic violence and sexual assault by any league personnel: a six-game suspension for a first offense and an indefinite suspension of at least one year for a second offense.
However, the letter also said there would be "consideration given to mitigating factors, as well as a longer suspension when circumstances warrant." Goodell admitted he "didn't get it right" on Rice's punishment. "Simply put, we have to do better, and we will," the letter said.
A three-time Pro Bowl pick who helped Baltimore to a Super Bowl title in the 2012 season, Rice had three years remaining on the five-year contract he signed with the Ravens in July 2012. His $4 million base salary for this season wasn't guaranteed, but the Ravens will carry $14.25 million in cap hits over the next two seasons.
Initially, Rice and Palmer both were charged with simple assault after the Feb. 15 incident. The Atlantic County prosecutor's office later dropped the charge against her. In March, Rice was indicted by a grant jury on the more serious charge of third-degree assault. The charge carried a potential sentence of three to five years in prison. After the indictment, Rice and Palmer married.
In May, Rice entered a program for first-time offenders that would clear his record of the criminal charge if he met certain conditions, including participation in counseling.
On July 24, Goodell imposed a two-game suspension on Rice at the start of the regular season. Rice missed the Ravens' season-opening loss to the Cincinnati Bengals and was to miss Thursday night's game in Baltimore against the Pittsburgh Steelers before returning to the active roster.
Since the NFL imposed standardized penalties last month, two NFL players are known to have been arrested on domestic violence charges.
On Aug. 31, wide receiver Quincy Enunwa, a practice squad player with the New York Jets, was arrested in Florham Park, N.J., on a charge of simple assault following an alleged domestic violence dispute with his girlfriend, according to the Florham Park Police Department.
Also that day, defensive tackle Ray McDonald of the San Francisco 49ers was arrested on domestic violence charges following an alleged incident at his 30th birthday party.
Goodell said recently that for the league to impose discipline a person would have to be "not only charged, but we would wait for the legal system to complete its process, particularly in any case on a first (offender). That's something that's very important to us."