In most cases, a player’s suspension doesn’t become final until he has exhausted his appeal rights. In the case of indefinitely suspended running back Ray Rice, that’s not the case.
The NFL contends that Rice remains suspended until his appeal is resolved, or until his suspension ends.
“After the suspension was announced, we said: Teams have been notified that any contract between a team and Ray Rice will not be approved or take effect until further direction is provided from the commissioner’s office,” the league advised PFT by email.
It means, as a practical matter, that Rice will remain suspended until the appeal ends. Which means that it’s critical the appeal move forward, as soon as possible.
Of course, even if Rice were reinstated, he’d need to find a team interested in giving him a contract. That video makes him radioactive, probably for the rest of the season and possibly beyond. So while he’d potentially have a strong argument in court if he wanted to force the suspension to be lifted while his appeal is processed, that’s likely not the best way to continue his NFL career.
There’s a real chance that his NFL career is over. But this appeal is about bigger issues than Rice’s career. It’s about player rights, and it’s about creating a truly independent search for the truth about the league’s shoddy, bungled investigation into the Rice case.