The NFL on Wednesday said it is looking into an Associated Press report that a league executive received in April a copy of the video in which Ray Rice punched his now-wife in the face.
“We have no knowledge of this. We are not aware of anyone in our office who possessed or saw the video before it was made public on Monday. We will look into it,” NFL spokesman Brian McCarthy said.
The AP story said the law enforcement official requested anonymity because of an ongoing investigation and didn’t name the NFL executive because that would make it easy to identify the AP’s source.
The law enforcement official had a short voice mail from April 9 in which someone calling from a number at the NFL office thanks the source, the AP reported. She says of the video, “You’re right. It’s terrible,” according to the AP.
NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell told CBS in an interview aired Wednesday that the league asked for the videotape on several occasions, but was denied access.
“I understand that there may be legal restrictions on them sharing that with us,” he said.
TMZ ran a story Tuesday, citing anonymous sources, saying the NFL never asked the casino for the video, and had it asked, the video would have been handed over.
Reacting to that report, NFL officials said they asked state police for evidence related to the case, but authorities did not give the video to them.
NFL spokesman Brian McCarthy said that security for Atlantic City casinos is handled by New Jersey State Police.
“We requested from law enforcement any and all information about the incident, including the video from inside the elevator,” he said. “That video was not made available to us.”
On February 15, Rice, released Monday by the Baltimore Ravens, and his then-fiancee, Janay Palmer, got into an altercation on an elevator in a casino in Atlantic City, New Jersey. Rice floored Palmer with a punch to the head then dragged her—face down—out of the elevator. The incident was captured on casino surveillance cameras.
TMZ Sports obtained two videos from the footage taken that night, but the NFL has claimed it could not legally get the videos.
Rice was suspended indefinitely by the league and is in a pretrial intervention program in the New Jersey legal system that will allow him to avoid jail time.
Prior to this new revelation Goodell, just two days after suspending Rice, told “CBS This Morning” that Rice might yet get another chance.
Asked if it might be possible for Rice to play in the NFL again, Goodell said, “I don’t rule that out, but he would have to make sure that we are fully confident that he is addressing this issue.”
“Clearly, he has paid a price for the actions he’s already taken,” he told CBS.
Whether any NFL coach or owner would provide that opportunity to the disgraced Rice at some point in the future is another question altogether.
Goodell’s handling—or mishandling, as his critics say—of the Rice domestic violence incident has led to calls for his firing, too.
An increasing number of critics think Goodell, the man in charge of disciplining the star player, should be next.
“The NFL has lost its way. It doesn’t have a Ray Rice problem; it has a violence against women problem,” said Terry O’Neill, president of the National Organization for Women. “The NFL sets the example for college, high school, middle school and even elementary school football programs. And the example it is setting right now is simply unacceptable. New leadership must come in with a specific charge to transform the culture of violence against women that pervades the NFL.”
Goodell told CBS News on Tuesday that he was sickened by what he saw on the newly released video, however, he said, Monday was the first time he had seen the full scope of the February incident.
He also deflected criticism of his handling of Rice’s case and his initial lenient penalty for the Baltimore Ravens running back’s act.
“What we saw in the first videotape was troubling to us in and of itself,” Goodell said, referring to another video that surfaced in February after the incident, showing Rice dragging his then-fiancée out of the elevator. “But what we saw yesterday was extremely clear. It was extremely graphic and it was sickening.”
The release of the latest video made sports commentators even angrier about what they say was the league’s botched reaction to the incident—an initial two-game suspension for Rice—something Goodell has admitted he didn’t get right.
Outspoken ESPN personality Keith Olbermann called Goodell an “enabler of men who beat women” and demanded the commissioner resign or be fired.
“Mr. Goodell’s ineptitude has not merely rendered this football season meaningless and irrelevant by contrast, it has not only reduced supporting or watching football to a distasteful, even a disrespectful act, but most importantly it has comforted the violent and afflicted the victim,” Olbermann opined Monday.
San Francisco Chronicle sport columnist Ann Killion agreed.
“Roger Goodell should follow Rice out the door—his leadership has no integrity and no longer can be trusted by the public. He should resign,” she wrote.
Goodell has admitted that his initial two-game suspension of Rice was the wrong decision. He said so when he announced a new policy penalizing acts of violence like domestic abuse or sexual assault.
The new rules meant a minimum six-game ban, but the penalty didn’t apply to Rice’s case.
The policy was greeted with commendations, but the fact that Rice was going to be back in uniform soon, even though the league knew he had knocked Janay Rice unconscious, drew loud condemnation.
Goodell told CBS that he wasn’t going to step down and that criticism was an everyday part of the position.
CNN’s Mariano Castillo, Jill Martin and Jennifer Bernstein contributed to this report.