AP source: Goodell told to testify in Rice appeal

Associated Press

October 23, 2014

In this Oct. 8, 2014, photo, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell speaks during a news conference following a meeting of NFL owners and executives in New York. A person familiar with the case has told The Associated Press that an arbiter has ruled that Goodell should testify in Ray Rice's appeal of his indefinite suspension. The person spoke on condition of anonymity because details of the appeal have not been made public.

NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell has been told to testify in Ray Rice's appeal of his indefinite suspension, a person familiar with the case told The Associated Press on Wednesday night.

Former U.S. District Judge Barbara S. Jones, the neutral arbiter selected to hear the appeal, informed the parties of her decision Wednesday. The person spoke on condition of anonymity because details of the appeal have not been made public.

It was uncertain whether Goodell will actually testify. He said this month he would leave the decision to Judge Jones.

"We will continue to respect Judge Jones' confidentiality order regarding this proceeding," NFL spokesman Brian McCarthy said in an email.

NFL lawyers have argued that Goodell shouldn't have to testify, and instead were offering testimony from Jeff Pash, the NFL's general counsel, and Adolpho Birch, the NFL's vice president for labor policy. Pash and Birch were with Goodell when he met with Rice's side in June to talk about what happened when the former Pro Bowl running back hit his then-fiancee in an elevator.

Rice described details of the incident at that meeting. Goodell has called Rice's description "ambiguous" while Rice's side has maintained he gave exact details.

The hearing will be held Nov. 5 and 6, two people familiar with the case told the AP on Tuesday.

Rice was suspended indefinitely Sept. 8 for violating the NFL's personal conduct policy after a video of the former Pro Bowl running back hitting the woman was released publicly. Goodell originally had suspended the running back for two games.

Once the video became public, the Baltimore Ravens cut Rice, and the league banned him indefinitely. The league considered the video to be new evidence, giving Goodell the authority to further suspend Rice.

The players' union appealed Rice's suspension, saying he should not be punished twice.

Jones was jointly picked by the commissioner and the players' union to hear the appeal. The union said at the time that Goodell's testimony as a witness would be crucial in the proceedings.