Ray Rice has won his suspension appeal case and has been reinstated to the NFL.
Rice, who was cut by the Baltimore Ravens after TMZ footage showed him in an elevator knocking out his then-fiancee Janay Palmer, is free to sign with any team that chooses to pick him up, according to multiple media reports on Friday.
Rice, 27, was suspended indefinitely by the NFL on Sept. 8th after video emerged of him knocking out his fiancee, whom he has since married. A media firestorm ensued, in which the league and NFL commissioner Roger Goodell were criticized for initially suspending Rice for just two games for the altercation before seeing the full video.
The appeals judge in the case, U.S. District Judge Barbara S. Jones, agreed with Rice’s argument: that the NFL had already known what happened in the altercation and suspended him for two games, and had no basis for suspending him indefinitely when the video showing what they already knew happened to came out.
Now, it’s decision time for 32 NFL team executives. Sign a player who might be able to help your team as the playoffs approach and deal with the PR nightmare that will ensue from fans, advertisers, and sponsors, or stay far far way from the polarizing Rice.
Rice can technically be signed by a team immediately and play this Sunday — Week 13 of the current NFL season.
As TheWrap previously reported, reinstating Rice could create a media firestorm, with everyone from cable news to ESPN going wall-to-wall covering the former star running back.
A spokesperson for the NFL said in a statement Friday: “We respect Judge Jones’ decision to reinstate Ray Rice from his indefinite suspension for violating the league’s Personal Conduct Policy in an incident of domestic violence. Ray Rice is a free agent and has been eligible to be signed by an NFL team since he was released by the Ravens. Based on Judge Jones’ decision, he will be eligible to play upon signing a new contract.”