The plan was to wait for former FBI director Robert S. Mueller's investigation to be complete, allowing the union and Rice's lawyer, Peter Ginsberg, to use any findings of wrongdoing to support his case. But New York Giants owner John Mara – appointed by commissioner Roger Goodell to oversee the investigation along with Pittsburgh Steelers owner Art Rooney II – said Wednesday it'll probably be "another several months" until Mueller's probe is complete.
Waiting it out could mean Rice, 27, doesn't move forward with his push for reinstatement until after the season. A hearing now could come as soon as the end of this month, the person said, though no date had been set as of Wednesday night. Rice was accepted into a pretrial diversion program that will dismiss the assault charge against him upon completion and originally was suspended just two games by the NFL, which drew intense criticism. After the video surfaced, Goodell increased the ban and said Rice was "ambiguous" in his statements to the league about the incident.
Given the unique circumstances of the case, the NFL agreed to waive Goodell's authority over Rice's appeal. Instead, former U. S. district judge Barbara S. Jones was appointed by Goodell to hear the appeal after consultation with the NFLPA.
"Judge Jones as the appeals officer determines the timing of the process, " NFL spokesman Greg Aiello told USA TODAY Sports in an email.