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WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Ray Rice appealed against his indefinite suspension by the National Football League on Tuesday for a one-punch knockout of his wife as the former Baltimore Ravens running back tries to resuscitate his once-flourishing career.
Meanwhile, the NFL continues to grapple with domestic violence issues as some of its top players, including Adrian Peterson, are under scrutiny both by the league and the public.
Rice was originally suspended for two games by the NFL for beating up then-fiancee Janay Palmer in the elevator of an Atlanta City, New Jersey casino in February. But after a grainy video surfaced last week showing the punch inside the elevator, the Ravens cut Rice and the league suspended him indefinitely.
Both NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell and the Ravens insist they never saw the video showing the punch until last week.
"This action taken by our union is to protect the due process rights of all NFL players," the NFL Players Association said in a statement.
"The NFLPA appeal is based on supporting facts that reveal a lack of a fair and impartial process, including the role of the office of the commissioner of the NFL," it said.
The union said it has requested a neutral arbitrator hear the case since "the commissioner and his staff will be essential witnesses" and would not be impartial.
A three-time Pro Bowler, Rice was set to enter his seventh season in the NFL after being selected out of Rutgers in the second round of the draft. He was the Ravens' leading ground gainer in the 2012 season and helped lead the team to a 34-31 victory over the San Francisco 49ers in the Super Bowl.
Rice was indicted in March by a grand jury on third-degree aggravated assault, but the charge was dropped because now-wife Janay Palmer declined to testify against him. He ultimately agreed to court-supervised counseling as part of a pre-trial intervention program.
The situation involving Rice helped thrust the issue of domestic violence into the spotlight, and the NFL responded Monday by hiring four women to help shape its approach.
Peterson, facing charges in Texas of causing injury to his son by disciplining him with a tree branch, was reinstated by the Vikings on Monday after being held out of Sunday's 30-7 loss to New England.
The Vikings said they will wait for the legal process to play out.
Editing by Eric Walsh and Paul Tait