Goodell testifies at Rice hearing

ByDON VAN NATTA JR.
November 5, 2014, 8:21 PM

— -- NEW YORK -- NFL commissioner Roger Goodell testified under oath Wednesday for two-plus hours in Ray Rice's appeal hearing in Manhattan, sources told "Outside the Lines."

The testimony from Goodell, the first witness called, followed opening statements by the NFL and the NFL players' union, which is handling the appeal for the former Pro Bowl running back who was suspended indefinitely by the NFL and released by the Baltimore Ravens after a domestic violence incident.

Goodell spent the majority of his time testifying under cross-examination by outside union attorney Jeffrey Kessler, sources said. The sources did not disclose what Goodell said under testimony, citing a gag order in the case.

Rice and his wife, Janay, attended the hearing, which began midmorning at the offices of former U.S. District Judge Barbara S. Jones. Jones, who will decide the appeal, ruled that all witnesses would be testifying under oath.

The Rices are expected to testify separately Thursday, the sources said. Goodell, league security chief Jeffrey Miller and Ravens president Dick Cass are among the key witnesses expected to testify in the two-day hearing. It was not known Wednesday afternoon who followed Goodell.

It's unclear when Jones will rule in the case, though a source told "Outside the Lines" a decision could come in a matter of days.

Rice was suspended indefinitely Sept. 8 for violating the NFL's personal conduct policy after a video of him hitting his then-fiancée was released publicly. Goodell originally had suspended the running back for two games. The incident occurred in February inside an elevator at an Atlantic City, New Jersey, casino. The couple married a month later.

Rice contends the league's indefinite suspension constitutes an enhanced punishment for the same violation and thus violates labor law. The union also is arguing that the discipline of Rice by Goodell was inconsistent as it relates to the league's conduct policy. Rice is seeking immediate reinstatement.

He has filed a separate grievance against the Ravens, challenging their right to terminate his contract and release him on Sept. 8. Rice is seeking repayment for the games he has missed.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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