September 30, 2014 / 4:13 AM / in 3 years

Neutral arbitrator to hear Rice appeal: ESPN

Sep 29 (Reuters) - Ray Rice’s appeal of his indefinite suspension for domestic violence will be heard by a neutral arbitrator, not NFL commissioner Roger Goodell or someone he appoints, ESPN reported late on Monday.

Aug 16, 2014; Arlington, TX, USA; Baltimore Ravens running back Ray Rice (27) heads into the locker room in the second quarter against the Dallas Cowboys at AT&T Stadium. Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports

In a copy of an email obtained by ESPN, NFL Players’ Association executive director DeMaurice Smith told the union’s executive board it was the first time a neutral arbitrator had been appointed in a personal conduct disciplinary case.

According to the email, the union will “confer with the league shortly regarding the final choice of the arbitrator,” after both sides submitted candidates.

The NFL had already suggested Goodell, who usually sits in judgment of all cases, did not intend to hear the appeal.

He originally suspended Rice for two games before increasing it to an indefinite suspension after video footage of Rice knocking out his now wife in an elevator surfaced.

“This occurs in the context of a difficult set of facts and circumstances (but) it is a positive movement on the overall question of neutral arbitration and a fair personal conduct discipline process,” Smith wrote.

Reporting by Ben Everill in Los Angeles; Editing by Greg Stutchbury

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