According to Ryan Mink of the Ravens' official website, the suspension was based on the NFL's personal-conduct policy:
"Ravens running back Ray Rice has been suspended for two games under the NFL personal-conduct policy.
"NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell announced the punishment via a memo on Thursday, the first day of the Ravens' full training camp practice.
"Rice's suspension is without pay, and will be fined an additional game check.
"In a letter to Rice, Goodell stated:
"'As you acknowledged during our meeting, your conduct was unquestionably inconsistent with league policies and the standard of behavior required of everyone who is part of the NFL. 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. 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. 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.
"'I believe that you are sincere in your desire to learn from this matter and move toward a healthy relationship and successful career. I am now focused on your actions and expect you to demonstrate by those actions that you are prepared to fulfill those expectations.'
"Rice will miss a key two-game stand against the Ravens' chief AFC North foes to begin the season. Baltimore opens with defending division champion Cincinnati (Bengals) on Sept. 7, then welcomes arch-rival Pittsburgh (Steelers) to M&T Bank Stadium.
"'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,' Ravens General Manager Ozzie Newsome said in a statement.
"'We appreciate the thorough process the league office used to evaluate the incident with Ray Rice. The time the Commissioner spent with Ray and Janay is typical of the extra steps the NFL takes when making decisions regarding discipline issues.'
"Rice and his wife, Janay, reportedly met with Goodell on June 16 to discuss the events that took place in February and their steps moving forward. Goodell also likely considered that Rice is a first-time offender who has done a great deal of charity work in the Baltimore community, including anti-bullying campaigns.
"Rice was arrested on Feb. 15 after he and his then fiancee and now wife, Janay Rice, got into an altercation in an elevator at Revel Casino in Atlantic City, N.J.
"Rice avoided standing trial because prosecutors approved him for a pre-trial intervention program designed for first-time offenders, which will allow him to clear his record of charges of the alleged lawsuit if completed successfully.
"'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. '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.'
"Rice can practice with the team for the remainder of training camp and the preseason. He will have to stay away from the team facility during the suspension, which will technically last less than two weeks since the Ravens play their first two games within five days."
Commissioner Goodell's decision was harshly criticized by former players and the national media, per The Baltimore Sun's Jeff Zrebiec. One of those former players is Rice's friend and ex-Ravens wide receiver Derrick Mason:
"Goodell's decision drew a sharp rebuke from several ex-players, including Rice's former teammate Derrick Mason, and from the national media. Outlets including ESPN, Sports Illustrated and USA Today cited the ruling as proof that the NFL doesn't take domestic violence seriously enough.
"Mason, the Ravens' all-time leading receiver and a friend of Rice's, believed that Rice deserved a bigger punishment.
"'Sometimes good people make bad decisions. I know he's learned from it, but I think the NFL needs to take a harsher stance toward domestic violence,' Mason said. 'When you suspend a guy for six games for marijuana or (performance-enhancing drugs), you should take at least that approach toward domestic violence.
"'To come back and say, 'It's going to be two games and he can appeal it,' then those women that follow football start to wonder if the NFL condones violence against women. We know they don't, but the punishment doesn't (reflect) that.'"