Wednesday September 24th, 2014

The NFL Players Association said Wednesday that it is launching its own investigation into the league's and Baltimore Ravens' handling of the Ray Rice domestic violence case.

The union said in a statement that a former federal prosecutor, Craig Smith, will conduct the investigation: 

The NFLPA has retained Richard Craig Smith, Head of Regulatory and Governmental  Investigation, United States of Norton Rose Fulbright to conduct our investigation surrounding the due process, discipline, facts and conduct of the NFL League Office and Baltimore Ravens resulting in the indefinite suspension of Ray Rice.  As a former federal prosecutor, Mr. Smith brings tremendous experience and expertise. The NFLPA will request that the NFL and the Baltimore Ravens cooperate in the interest of transparency. This investigation will run parallel to Rice's appeal.

The NFL has asked a former FBI director, Robert Mueller III, to head its own "independent" investigation into the league's handling of the Rice case.

Commissioner Roger Goodell has come under intense scrutiny since the release of a video showing Rice striking his then-fiancée​, now-wife, Janay Palmer. Goodell initially said he had never seen the video and has continued to deny seeing the video before TMZ made it public. The Associated Press later reported that a law enforcement official said he sent the video to an NFL executive in April. The official told the AP he could not confirm whether anyone watched the video. 

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The Baltimore Ravens terminated Rice's contract after the video was released. The NFL also suspended him indefinitely. 

Goodell wrote in a letter to the NFL Players Association that Rice's suspension was changed from two games to indefinite because the video shows a "starkly different sequence of events" from what Rice and his representatives described in a disciplinary meeting in June. A later report from ESPN's Outside the Lines this week said Rice told Goodell in the meeting that he punched Palmer.

Goodell addressed the Rice case at a recent press conference. 

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The incident occurred inside an elevator at the Revel Hotel and Casino in Atlantic City on Feb. 15. Rice pleaded not guilty to an aggravated assault charge and avoided trial. He was recently approved to enter a pre-trial intervention program.

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