The Baltimore Ravens have terminated the contract of running back Ray Rice, hours after TMZ Sports posted a video showing him punching his then-fiancée in an Atlantic City hotel elevator earlier this year.
The incident occurred on February 15 in a hotel at the Revel Casino, and initially, Rice’s assault of Janay Palmer (whom he married in March), earned him a two-game suspension from NFL commissioner Roger Goodell. That penalty was so widely criticized – especially given the year-long suspension handed out the Cleveland Browns’ Josh Gordon, who failed a marijuana test – that it caused the league to revamp its personal conduct policies in regards to domestic violence.
In the new security-camera video, Rice and Palmer can be seen entering an elevator and engaging in a brief scuffle. Rice then punches Palmer in the face, knocking her into a railing, apparently causing her to lose consciousness. An earlier video showed him dragging her out of an elevator. Rice and Palmer were both charged with assault, though the six-year NFL vet struck a deal with prosecutors to avoid jail time, provided he completed a domestic violence program.
Following the release of that video, Rice earned a two-game suspension – set to end after the Ravens’ Thursday game against the Pittsburgh Steelers – was fined more than $50,000 by the NFL and forfeited his salary from the two games, a total or more than $470,000.
Neither the league nor the Ravens claim they had seen the second video until Monday. A Revel spokesperson told ABC News that the hotel (which closed September 2) gave a copy of the video to Atlantic City police, but did not give it to TMZ Sports. However, within hours of the second video being made public, the Ravens cut Rice – who had three years and $10 million left on his contract – and the NFL announced he’d been suspended indefinitely.
Rice’s release comes one week after San Francisco 49ers defensive tackle Ray McDonald was arrested in Santa Clara, California, for alleged felony domestic abuse against his pregnant fiancée. McDonald has yet to be charged by authorities, or punished by his team – he started in the Niners’ season-opening win over the Dallas Cowboys on Sunday.
After his initial suspension of Rice, Goodell expressed regret over the league’s handling of the matter – “My disciplinary decision led the public to question…whether we understood the toll that domestic violence inflicts on so many families,” the commissioner wrote in a letter to NFL owners on August 28 – and vowed to change its personal conduct policies to reflect that.
Under the recently-stiffened penalties against domestic violence, first-time offenders would face a six-game suspension, while players would receive a lifetime ban for a second offense.