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Monday, June 16, 2014
What punishment should Ray Rice expect?

By Jamison Hensley

Ray Rice got one step closer to learning his punishment from the NFL when he met with league commissioner Roger Goodell on Monday.

What kind of discipline should Rice expect? The New York Post's Bart Hubbuch is "hearing" that Rice will be suspended four to six games and perhaps even more.

That would go against the NFL's history of suspensions. Over the past three years, the 12 players who have been suspended for more than four games have one common denominator  -- they were all repeat offenders.

While it's difficult to predict how Goodell will wield his discretionary power, the more likely scenario is a suspension of two to four games for Rice.

What Rice has working in his favor is never having a major off-the-field incident in his past. Goodell will likely factor that in as well as Rice's extensive work in the community. It also helps that Rice and his wife remain together even after the alleged assault and they have been in counseling.

But the TMZ video of Rice dragging out his then-fiancee from an elevator was embarrassing for the Ravens and the league. Even Ravens general manager Ozzie Newsome acknowledged at the time that the video "doesn't look good."

It's not a matter of if the league will suspend Rice. It's now a matter of how long it will ban him.

Rice was arrested and charged for striking his fiancee, but he was never convicted of a crime. He was accepted into a pretrial intervention program that will result in the dismissal of his assault charge if he completes the program.

Under the league's personal conduct policy, the NFL can suspend a player without him being charged or arrested. In 2010, Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger was suspended six games (later reduced to four games) after being accused a second time of sexual assault.

There is precedent with first-time offenders involved in domestic violence cases, and the Ravens have dealt with it personally. Cornerbacks Fabian Washington (one game) and Cary Williams (two games) were suspended by the NFL for domestic violence incidents while they were with the Ravens.

What separates Rice from Washington and Williams is the high profile of his case. For that reason, a multi-game suspension is likely in order. Anything beyond four games would not fall in line with how Goodell has disciplined in the past.