October 16, 2014
NFL commissioner Roger Goodell speaks during a news conference following a meeting of NFL owners and executives in New York, Wednesday, Oct. 8, 2014. The meetings were held to help the NFL develop and carry out a domestic violence educational program. (AP
John Minchillo

A neutral arbiter is expected to decide early next week whether NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell should testify during an appeal of Ray Rice's indefinite suspension, a person familiar with the case told The Associated Press on Thursday.

Goodell said last week he'd leave the decision to former U.S. District Judge Barbara S. Jones. She was picked by the commissioner and the players' union to hear Rice's appeal earlier this month. The hearing is tentatively set for November.

''I think Judge Jones is the one who ultimately is going to make the rules and determinations,'' Goodell said at the owners' meetings in New York.

The person who informed the AP of the timing spoke on condition of anonymity because details about the hearing haven't been released.

The union is appealing Rice's suspension for violating the NFL's personal conduct policy. The former Baltimore Ravens running back was suspended after video of him hitting his then-fiancee in an elevator was publicly released.

Union officials said in announcing the appeal that Goodell and his staff's testimony is a central reason why it pushed to jointly select an outside arbiter.

Goodell said in appointing Jones that she would have ''our full cooperation as she hears and decides this appeal.'' Jones is a partner in a private law firm and is also a former Department of Justice attorney.

One month after Rice was initially suspended two games, Goodell said he didn't get things right and announced tougher penalties for future domestic violence incidents. But the penalties didn't apply to Rice. Once the video was released, the Ravens cut Rice and the league banned him indefinitely, with the league saying it considered the video new evidence.

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AP NFL website: www.pro32.ap.org and www.twitter.com/AP-NFL

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Rob Maaddi can be reached on Twitter at www.twitter.com/ap-robmaaddi

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