The NFL and the Baltimore Ravens tried to cover up Ray Rice's domestic abuse case by pushing prosecutors for leniency and engaging in a flagrant "pattern of misinformation and misdirection," according to an explosive report from ESPN's Outside the Lines.
Contrary to the Ravens' public insistence that they had no knowledge until September of the contents of a videotape showing Rice knocking his then-fiancée (now-wife) Janay unconscious, OTL reports that the team knew that information within hours of Rice's February arrest. As for the NFL, it took an "uncharacteristically passive approach" to gathering evidence, and may have fudged the truth in saying no league officials knew the contents of the tape until September either. Both the league and team claimed no one in their offices had seen the tape. However, Rice himself and others who had seen a copy of the tape explicitly described the footage, leaving no doubt the running back knocked his wife unconscious, according to OTL.
Last week, Goodell told CBS News that, during the disciplinary meeting, Rice provided an "ambiguous" account of what had happened inside the elevator. And in its Sept. 12 letter justifying the indefinite suspension, the league said Rice's account was "starkly different" from what was seen on the inside-elevator video. Four sources, however, told Outside the Lines that Rice gave Goodell a truthful account that he struck his fiancée. Furthermore, it would seem that if Rice had given an "ambiguous" account, sources say Goodell had even more incentive to try to obtain a copy of the in-elevator video to clear up any lingering questions. But he did not do that. "For you not to have seen the video is inexcusable," a league source told Outside the Lines. "Because everybody was under the impression that you had." [ESPN]
The report came hours after Goodell admitted in a press conference to having made mistakes, and announced that the league would craft a new disciplinary policy. Yet the lingering questions about whether he deliberately misled the public about what the NFL knew, and when, could still put his job in jeopardy, especially in light of the OTL report.