Ravens running back
NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell announced the punishment via a memo on Thursday, the first day of the Ravens’ full training camp practice.
Rice’s suspension is without pay, and will be fined an additional game check.
In a letter to Rice, Goodell stated:
“As you acknowledged during our meeting, your conduct was unquestionably inconsistent with league polices and the standard of behavior required of everyone who is part of the NFL. The league is an entity that depends on integrity and in the confidence of the public and we simply cannot tolerate conduct that endangers others or reflects negatively on our game. This is particularly true with respect to domestic violence and other forms of violence against women.
“You will be expected to continue to take advantage of the counseling and other professional services you identified during our meeting. As you noted, this additional assistance has been of significant benefit to you and your wife, and it should remain a part of your practice as appropriate.
“I believe that you are sincere in your desire to learn from this matter and move forward toward a healthy relationship and successful career. I am now focused on your actions and expect you to demonstrate by those actions that you are prepared to fulfill those expectations.”
Rice will miss a key two-game stand against the Ravens’ chief AFC North foes to begin the season. Baltimore opens with defending division champion Cincinnati on Sept. 7, then welcomes arch-rival Pittsburgh to M&T Bank Stadium.
“While not having Ray for the first two games is significant to our team, we respect the league’s decision and believe it is fair,” Ravens General Manager Ozzie Newsome said in a statement.
“We appreciate the thorough process the league office used to evaluate the incident with Ray Rice. The time the Commissioner spent with Ray and Janay is typical of the extra steps the NFL takes when making decisions regarding discipline issues.”
Rice and his wife, Janay, reportedly met with Goodell on June 16 to discuss the events that took place in February and their steps moving forward. Goodell likely also considered that Rice is a first-time offender who has done a great deal of charity work in the Baltimore community, including anti-bullying campaigns.
Rice was arrested on Feb. 15 after he and his then fiancée and now wife, Janay Rice, got into an altercation in an elevator at Revel Casino in Atlantic City, N.J.
Rice avoided standing trial because prosecutors approved him for a pre-trial intervention program designed for first-time offenders, which will allow him to clear his record of charges of the alleged assault if completed successfully.
“It is disappointing that I will not be with my teammates for the first two games of the season, but that’s my fault,” Rice said in a statement. “As I said earlier, I failed in many ways.
“But, Janay and I have learned from this. We have become better as a couple and as parents. I am better because of everything we have experienced since that night. The counseling has helped tremendously.”
Rice can practice with the team for the remainder of training camp and the preseason. He will have to stay away from the team facility during his suspension, which will technically last less than two weeks since the Ravens play their first two games within five days.
Rice will not take up a spot on the 53-man roster while he’s suspended. Baltimore will rely on backup
Rice’s suspension will begin on August 30. He will be eligible for reinstatement on Monday, September 12.
Now Rice will try to move on from the incident.
“My goal is to earn back the trust of the people, especially the children, I let down because of this incident,” he said. “I am a role model and I take that responsibility seriously. My actions going forward will show that.”
Rice has received support from the front office, coaches and his teammates.
“We respect the efforts Ray has made to become the best partner and father he can be,” Newsome said. “That night was not typical of the Ray Rice we know and respect. We believe that he will not let that one night define who he is and he is determined to make sure something like this never happens again.”
“He’s a great guy,” added defensive tackle
“It’s definitely tough,” Smith said. “People are going to try to view him differently, but I know how Ray is as a person and I know how Janay is and they’re working to improve on everything.
“I’ll be glad when those two games are up, not only so we can have him back – which is the least of my worries – but to close the final chapter for him.”