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NFL union hires former federal prosecutor to investigate handling of Ray Rice case

In this May 23, 2014 file photo, Baltimore

In this May 23, 2014 file photo, Baltimore Ravens running back Ray Rice pauses as he speaks during a news conference at the team's practice facility in Owings Mills, Md. Credit: AP / Patrick Semansky

The NFL Players Association, which last week filed an appeal of former Ravens running back Ray Rice's indefinite suspension, on Wednesday announced it has hired Richard Craig Smith to conduct an investigation into the handling of the case by the NFL office and Ravens.

Smith is the head of Regulatory and Governmental Investigation at the Washington firm Norton Rose Fulbright.

The NFL appointed former FBI director Robert Mueller on Sept. 10 to conduct a probe into how the league handled the Rice case. The decision to hire Mueller was made shortly after a report by The Associated Press said an NFL employee was sent a copy of a video in April showing Rice knocking out Janay Palmer, who was then his fiancée, in the elevator of an Atlantic City casino.

The NFL denied any employee saw the video before Sept. 8, when TMZ Sports posted it on its website. The Ravens released Rice within hours of the posting, and the NFL quickly suspended Rice indefinitely.

The NFLPA said in a statement on Wednesday that Smith would "conduct our investigation surrounding the due process, discipline, facts and conduct of the NFL League Office and Baltimore Ravens resulting in the indefinite suspension of Ray Rice. As a former federal prosecutor, Mr. Smith brings tremendous experience and expertise."

The union then requested that the NFL and the Ravens cooperate with the investigation "in the interest of transparency. This investigation will run parallel to Rice's appeal."

No date has been given for Rice's appeal, although the case may not be heard until the league and union investigations are over.

New York Sports