The announcements came after the celebrity website TMZ posted video footage today of Ray Rice attacking his then fiancée, now wife, in an Atlantic City casino elevator in February. Previously, video footage taken from outside the elevator showed Rice dragging his wife’s unconscious body. At that time, Rice was charged with felony assault, but after Janay Rice refused to testify against him, he faced only court-supervised counseling.
Rice made a public apology along with Janay, who said she “deeply regret the role I played in the incident that night.”
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The NFL suspended Rice for two games, and the Ravens didn’t take any public disciplinary action at that time.
But in a letter sent in late August to NFL owners, Commissioner Roger Goodell—who decides league penalties in some cases—apologized for the lax punishment of Rice, saying “I [Goodell] didn’t get it right.”
“My disciplinary decision led the public to question our sincerity, our commitment, and whether we understood the toll that domestic violence inflicts on so many families,” Goodell said in the letter. “I take responsibility both for the decision and for ensuring that our actions in the future properly reflect our values. I didn’t get it right. Simply put, we have to do better. And we will.”
Goodell also announced harsher penalties for domestic violence offenders within the league.
The one-year NFL-imposed suspension means no other team can sign Rice, who signed a five-year, $40 million contract extension in 2012.
The suspension of Rice today appears to be the result of the publication of the video footage following Goodell’s recent comments, though as a Sports Illustrated reporter acknowledged in July, Goodell likely saw the video footage when he initially decided Rice’s punishment around the time of the event.
NFL officials have denied seeing the footage that came to light today.