From the moment former federal judge Barbara S. Jones decided that Commissioner Roger Goodell will testify in the Ray Rice appeal hearing, a distinct possibility emerged that the challenge to Rice’s indefinite suspension will be resolved.
And while a settlement could indeed come at some point before the hearing commences on November 5, there’s no current indication of any negotiations aimed at concluding the case without requiring Goodell to answer questions under oath from lawyers Jeffrey Kessler or Peter Ginsberg or, possibly, NFLPA executive director DeMaurice Smith himself.
Settling the case wouldn’t be a simple process. Simply reinstating Rice surely wouldn’t cut it. Rice would also want compensation for some of the time he already has missed as a result of a second punishment that prevented him from returning after Week Two, the duration of his original suspension.
Then there’s the reality that the financial value of avoiding the appeal hearing could be worth much more to the NFL than whatever it would take to fairly compensate Rice. And Rice’s lawyers surely know this.
Settling the appeal also would create a delicate P.R. situation for the league, creating the impression for some that the NFL hopes not to do the right thing with Rice but to protect Goodell from having to answer questions about what happened — especially since anything Goodell says while testifying can be used against him by investigator Robert Mueller, who surely will be examining all testimony to compare it to the things that were said by those same witnesses when meeting with members of Mueller’s team.
So at this point a settlement would be a surprise, even if a settlement ultimate would make the most sense for everyone involved.