Just hours after Roger Goodell gave a press conference in which he said he absolutely believed NFL officials had not seen the full tape of the Ray Rice incident inside the elevator, ESPN dropped a major report claiming that the Baltimore Ravens had a complete picture of the incident along — and assumed Goodell had seen the video tape of the incident.
According to an Outside the Lines investigation, reporters "found a pattern of misinformation and misdirection employed by the Ravens and the NFL since that February night," and that league and team executives seemingly went out of their way to avoid gathering the necessary information on the case.
Reporters Don Van Natta Jr. and Kevin Van Valkenburg suggest that the Ravens worked hard to protect Rice, even ignoring a request from coach John Harbaugh to cut Rice after seeing the first video of the running back dragging his unconscious wife out of the elevator. This was also despite the fact that an employee of Ravens was describing the full incident to friends "within hours," saying the video was "really bad."
Darren Sanders, the Baltimore Ravens Director of Security, was told by an Atlantic City police officer exactly what occurred in the video by phone. Rice's attorney, Michael J. Diamondstein, had a copy of the tape as well, but the Ravens officials never asked to see it. Diamondstein specifically told Ravens president Dick Cass "It's fucking horrible" and also, "Ray knocked her the fuck out." Despite that information, team officials aggressively pushed for a lenient two-game suspension.
However, once the second, full video came out last week, the Ravens quickly abandoned Rice. Yet, Steve Bisciotti, the Ravens owner, reportedly sent the following text messages to Rice after the team terminated him and the NFL suspended him indefinitely:
Hey Ray, just want to let you know, we loved you as a player, it was great having you here. Hopefully all these things are going to die down. I wish the best for you and Janay.
When you're done with football, I'd like you to know you have a job waiting for you with the Ravens helping young guys getting acclimated to the league.
The Ravens commented only briefly on Bisciotti's messages to Rice, "His text messages to Ray reflect his belief that everyone is capable of redemption and that others, including players, can learn from Ray's experience." Associates of Rice told ESPN, that he interpreted as a insulting attempt to buy his silence with the promise of a future job.
Perhaps, most damning of all Ravens executives reportedly believed that Commissioner Roger Goodell had seen the tape, and told Rice as much, warning him that he should be completely upfront when explaining to Goodell what happened. Goodell later told the media that Rice's account of the incident was "ambiguous." Despite that, NFL security apparently made no effort to obtain a copy of the video.
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."