Arbitrator rules Goodell must testify

NFL commissioner Roger Goodell has been compelled to testify in Ray Rice's appeal of his indefinite suspension, a source told ESPN NFL Insider Adam Schefter on Wednesday.

The hearing before former U.S. District Judge Barbara S. Jones, the neutral arbiter selected to hear the appeal, will be held Nov. 5 and 6, according to previous ESPN and media reports.

Since this isn't a criminal case, it's uncertain whether Goodell will actually testify in the private arbitration. He had said earlier this month that he would leave the decision to Jones.

"We will continue to respect Judge Jones' confidentiality order regarding this proceeding,'' NFL spokesman Brian McCarthy said in an email.

NFL lawyers have argued that Goodell shouldn't have to testify, and instead were offering testimony from Jeff Pash, the NFL's general counsel, and Adolpho Birch, the NFL's vice president for labor policy. Pash and Birch were with Goodell when he met with Rice's side in June to talk about what happened when the former Pro Bowl running back hit his then-fiancee in an elevator.

Rice described details of the incident at that meeting. Goodell has called Rice's description "ambiguous" while Rice's side has maintained he gave exact details.

Rice was suspended indefinitely Sept. 8 for violating the NFL's personal conduct policy after a video of the former Pro Bowl running back hitting the woman was released publicly. Goodell originally had suspended the running back for two games.

Once the video became public, the Baltimore Ravensalso cut Rice. The league considered the video to be new evidence, giving Goodell the authority to further suspend Rice.

The players' union appealed Rice's suspension, saying he should not be punished twice.

Jones was jointly picked by the commissioner and the players' union to hear the appeal. The union said at the time that Goodell's testimony as a witness would be crucial in the proceedings.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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