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Arbitration Ruling in Rice Case Sets Precedent in NFL

Wednesday, November, 12, 2014

The controversy surrounding disgraced National Football League (NFL) player Ray Rice has died down somewhat since his suspension from the league, but the gears of disciplinary action continue to grind on.  Rice was suspended “indefinitely” after a video showing him punching his wife unconscious and then dragging her from an elevator was made public.  The athlete has appealed the suspension.


The NFL Players Association requested that for the first time, the appeal not be heard by NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell, but by a third-party arbitrator.  Goodell, suffering his own PR meltdown after his initial reaction to the charges of domestic abuse were seen as unfeeling and incompetent, has agreed.  This marks the first time that a player dispute between the NFLPA and the NFL has been settled by a third-party arbitrator.


In practical terms, even a positive ruling will not help Rice, who will almost certainly not receive a contract offer due to the bad publicity his hiring would bring to any team.  However, even a break of a few years from the NFL would be preferable to the athlete, as at least it allows the possibility of earning millions in the future, as opposed to the “indefinite” status of his current position.


The NFLPA has been pushing for more third-party arbitration in player disputes, and thus sees this as a positive development overall for its role in advocating for the players it represents, regardless of the final fate of Mr. Rice.