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Thursday, July 24, 2014
Updated: July 25, 11:07 AM ET
Ray Rice suspended 2 games

ESPN.com news services

Baltimore Ravens running back Ray Rice has been suspended for the first two games of this season for violating the NFL's personal conduct policy following his offseason arrest for domestic violence.

The suspension, which was announced Thursday by the league, stems from Rice's altercation with then-fiancée Janay Palmer at an Atlantic City hotel in February.

Rice also was fined an additional regular-season game check but is eligible to participate in training camp and all of Baltimore's preseason games, the NFL announced.

"It is disappointing that I will not be with my teammates for the first two games of the season, but that's my fault," Rice said in a statement released by the Ravens. "As I said earlier, I failed in many ways. But, Janay and I have learned from this. We have become better as a couple and as parents. I am better because of everything we have experienced since that night. The counseling has helped tremendously.

"My goal is to earn back the trust of the people, especially the children, I let down because of this incident," Rice said. "I am a role model and I take that responsibility seriously. My actions going forward will show that."

Rice was fined a total of $529,411.24 -- the combined total of two game checks for this year and one check from last season.

Speaking about Rice's punishment after the team's first full-squad workout of training camp Thursday in Owings Mills, Maryland, Ravens coach John Harbaugh said: "It's not a big deal. It's just part of the process. We said from the beginning that the circumstances would determine the consequences. There are consequences when you make a mistake like that. I stand behind Ray. He's a heck of a guy. He's done everything right since. He makes a mistake. He's going to have to pay a consequence."

NFL commissioner Roger Goodell informed Rice of the league's decision in a letter, saying that the league expects the three-time Pro Bowler to continue to attend counseling.

"The league is an entity that depends on integrity and in the confidence of the public, and we simply cannot tolerate conduct that endangers others or reflects negatively on our game," Goodell wrote in his letter to Rice. "This is particularly true with respect to domestic violence and other forms of violence against women.

"You will be expected to continue to take advantage of the counseling and other professional services you identified during our meeting," Goodell wrote. "As you noted, this additional assistance has been of significant benefit to you and your wife, and it should remain a part of your practice as appropriate."

Rice allegedly struck Palmer unconscious on Feb. 15 while in a casino elevator in Atlantic City. Video surfaced online showing Rice dragging an apparently unconscious Palmer out of the elevator. The couple has since married.

Rice pleaded not guilty to a third-degree charge of aggravated assault and avoided trial by being accepted into a pretrial intervention program in May.

"We appreciate the thorough process the league office used to evaluate the incident with Ray Rice," Ravens general manager Ozzie Newsome said in a statement. "The time the commissioner spent with Ray and Janay is typical of the extra steps the NFL takes when making decisions regarding discipline issues. While not having Ray for the first two games is significant to our team, we respect the league's decision and believe it is fair.

"We also respect the efforts Ray has made to become the best partner and father he can be." Newsome said. "That night was not typical of the Ray Rice we know and respect. We believe that he will not let that one night define who he is, and he is determined to make sure something like this never happens again."

Under the personal conduct policy, the NFL can suspend a player even if he isn't charged or convicted of a crime. Rice met with Goodell on June 16.

"I believe that you are sincere in your desire to learn from this matter and move forward toward a healthy relationship and successful career," Goodell wrote to Rice. "I am now focused on your actions and expect you to demonstrate by those actions that you are prepared to fulfill those expectations."

Ray Rice
Ray Rice has been suspended for the first two games of the season following his offseason arrest for domestic violence.

Rice will begin serving his suspension Aug. 30, and he will be eligible for reinstatement Sept. 12, the day after Baltimore plays a Thursday night game in Week 2 against the rival Pittsburgh Steelers.

Rice also will miss the Ravens' season opener against another division rival, the Cincinnati Bengals.

There is no proven starter on the Ravens' roster to replace Rice. Baltimore's top backup running backs -- Bernard Pierce, Justin Forsett and rookie Lorenzo Taliaferro -- have a combined eight career starts. Pierce is expected to fill in for Rice, but he's been limited this offseason while recovering from shoulder surgery.

First-time offenders, such as Rice, typically are suspended a month or less by the league. In the past three years, only 12 players have received more than four-game suspensions, and all were repeat offenders.

The amount of the additional fine is $58,823, which specifically represents one-seventeenth of Rice's $1 million base salary from 2013, a league source confirmed to ESPN. The two game checks from this season equal $470,588.

A league official told ESPN that the decision on the sum of the additional game check was based on the idea that the incident occurred during the 2013 season.

Rice was one of five Ravens players arrested this offseason. The latest was cornerback Jimmy Smith, who was arrested and charged with misdemeanor disorderly conduct July 12.

ESPN NFL Insiders Adam Schefter and Chris Mortensen and ESPN.com Ravens reporter Jamison Hensley contributed to this report.