By Steve Ginsburg
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - In launching a bid to overturn his indefinite suspension from the National Football League, former Baltimore Ravens running back Ray Rice may be hoping for the same type of second chance that other tarnished NFL stars like Michael Vick have received.
With the backing of the NFL Players Association, Rice on Tuesday filed an appeal of his suspension by Commissioner Roger Goodell for knocking out his then-fiance and now wife in an elevator of a New Jersey casino.
"Ray Rice is radioactive as we speak," Rick Horrow, a sports business consultant and lecturer at Harvard Law School, told Reuters. "But just like Michael Vick and others have demonstrated, America embraces second chances. But I have no way of knowing whether that is next month, next year or next decade."
New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft has said he doubted Rice would ever play in the NFL again.
Vick, who had been a star quarterback with the Atlanta Falcons, may have been similarly "radioactive" after he pleaded guilty to federal dogfighting charges in 2007 and was sentenced to two years in prison. But after serving his sentence he was welcomed back by the NFL, playing first for the Philadelphia Eagles and then New York Jets.
Rice initially was suspended by the league for two games for punching Janay Palmer but when a video surfaced showing the incident the Ravens released him and the league extended his suspension.
In his appeal Rice said he is being punished twice for the same offense. He also called for an independent arbitrator to hear the case because Goodell, who normally decides appeals, would likely be a witness.
Christine Brennan, a national sports columnist for USA Today, said Rice deserves a second chance - eventually. She said perhaps a one- or two-year suspension would be justified.
"What Ray Rice did was reprehensive and inexcusable but does he deserve a second chance at some point? I would say yes. In our world if we just said, 'That's it, you're done,' no chance to redeem yourself, no chance to help others, what are we doing?" Brennan said in a telephone interview.
Brennan suggested Rice speak to groups of domestic abuse even while his appeal is being heard.
Rice is 27 and coming off his least productive NFL season so teams might be less willing to give him a shot following a prolonged period off the field.
"The better the player, the more willing people are to give a second chance," said Horrow. "That's just the way it is. So we'll just have to see how this all shakes out."
(Reporting by Steve Ginsburg in Washington; Editing by Frank Pingue)