Speed Reads

Ray Rice

Baltimore Ravens: We thought Ray Rice only slapped his fiancée

The Baltimore Ravens on Monday categorically denied a bombshell ESPN report that accused the team and the NFL of engaging in a deliberate campaign of "misinformation and misdirection" in their handling of Ray Rice's domestic abuse case.

In the most pointed accusation, ESPN reported that the Ravens knew "within hours" of Rice's arrest that he had punched his then-fiancée (they've since wed) in the face because a team official was given a detailed description of security camera footage showing the altercation. The Ravens denial on that front is twofold: First, the team claims the official, Darren Sanders, didn't hear a description of the tape within hours, but rather within a few days. And second, the team claims Sanders heard the assault described as a slap, not a punch.

From a team statement:

We have stated what we knew and what we thought throughout — from the original report of the incident, to the release of the first videotape, to the release of the second videotape, which revealed a much harsher reality. As we said in our response to ESPN's questions on Friday, it was our understanding based on Ray's account that in the course of a physical altercation between the two of them he slapped Janay with an open hand, and that she hit her head against the elevator rail or wall as she fell to the ground. [Ravens]

In a press conference, Ravens owner Steve Bisciotti suggested ESPN's sources were Rice's attorney, agent, and friends, and that were trying to smear the team to get Rice reinstated in the league.

"Nobody's losing a job here," he said.