Is NFL Telling Stories Now about Previously Seeing Ray Rice Video because They Believe(d) It Exonerates Rice?

NFL officials are everywhere claiming that no one saw the Ray Rice video released today by TMZ back when they considered his punishment.

But, as Deadspin points out, Peter King’s reporting from July clearly suggests both the NFL and the Ravens had seen the video. Here’s what he wrote in July:

There is one other thing I did not write or refer to, and that is the other videotape the NFL and some Ravens officials have seen, from the security camera inside the elevator at the time of the physical altercation between Rice and his fiancée. I have heard reports of what is on the video, but because I could not confirm them and because of the sensitivity of the case, I never speculated on the video in my writing, because I don’t think it is fair in an incendiary case like this one to use something I cannot confirm with more than one person. I cannot say any more, because I did not see the tape. I saw only the damning tape of Rice pulling his unconscious fiancée out of the elevator.

But I don’t think Deadspin emphasizes the implication of this enough.

King raised the reports of the video he got to explain why he had said he thought it was fair for Rice to get just a 2-game suspension (though he thought 4 to be more fair). That is, people told him this video exonerated Rice.

There is a certain (perverse) logic to that. It suggests that because Rice’s then fiancée swung at him, he was justified in belting her, which led her to lose consciousness. (It’s not clear to me whether the blow itself or hitting her head on the railing knocked her out).  That might explain why she issued an apology at the time, because obviously swinging at Rice and getting knocked out in response makes it all her fault.

That is, the scandal of the video — in addition to the fact that they appear to be lying about having considered it in their discussion of Rice’s punishment — is they believed that because Janay swung at Rice he was justified in swinging back.

Even assuming that was their logic, though, remember that Roger Goodell was at this same time giving long, long punishments to various people for doing the harmless thing of smoking dope.

Update: In a follow-up post, now showing that Chris Mortenson and several other reporters also got the same report, Deadspin does emphasize this. NFL was telling reporters in July this video exonerated Rice (because Janay “attacked” Rice). Now they’re claiming they never saw it.

24 replies
  1. bloopie2 says:

    Note that the long punishments for drug offenses are, I believe, explicitly written into the collective bargaining agreement – that was done some years back when smoking pot was a bigger deal. The “personal conduct” punishments that the Commissioner deals out (like Rice’s) are totally discretionary with the Commissioner. The point is that one needn’t throw the book at someone, excessively, just because some other statute says one particular lesser offense gets a stricter punishment. Of course, in this case, it’s not “unjustifiably”.

  2. jo6pac says:

    I’m not going to watch this but thanks for posting. The man belongs in jail along with Ray McDonald and out of the nfl. The nfl spin on this going to be sick but then again a bunch old rich white guys don’t have problem with this I’m sure.

    • emptywheel says:

      That’s why I raised the pot. NFL uses his monopoly to police morality. But they treated Rice like a legal case.

  3. nomolos says:

    The administration of the NFL lied….say it is not so. My belief in the integrity, the honesty, hell even the Christianity of The Great American Game has been shattered, you mean those goddamn punks are just like any administration….fuck.

    Rice has been cut by the Baltimore team, he is now a man without a team, without a job, and without a moral bone is his miserable body. Maybe Goodell should be fired as well as he is obviously a lying sack of shit.

  4. bloopie2 says:

    Can Goodell go back and retroactively banish all the NFL players who have been found guilty of more serious crimes? There are lots of them. There’s the Texas (Dallas?) guy who drove drunk and killed his teammate – he was just reinstated, for gosh sake! Why shouldn’t he be banished? After all, he’s basically a murderer. I’m not saying Rice does not deserve this, I’m just asking for a tad bit of consistency.

  5. bloopie2 says:

    Maybe Ray should have said he was drunk – that would excuse it, right? He can get reinstated after a year?

    “Former Dallas Cowboys defensive tackle Josh Brent is being allowed to return to the NFL, though he won’t play right away. The NFL on Tuesday outlined a series of conditions Brent must meet to be eligible to play when the Cowboys return from their bye week in November. Brent retired last year and was sentenced to 180 days in jail after a trial in January in the intoxication manslaughter death of teammate Jerry Brown, a practice squad linebacker for the Cowboys. A 10-year prison sentence was suspended. The league says Brent will be suspended for the first 10 games of the season and can’t participate in team activities for the first six weeks. He won’t be allowed to visit the team’s practice facility for the first six weeks except to meet with people associated with his rehab.”

  6. der says:

    What happened before? What I see is a wobbly Rice saying something to Janay as she passes, she swats out (was she also intoxicated?), seems to say something to him and he follows her into the elevator, she doesn’t “attack” him as he enters but pushes a button (for their room?), he gets in her face, she pushes him away, he says something she comes toward him and gets cold cocked. Having witnessed more than a few drunken arguments between couples this one, on tape, seems to follow the standard mouth arguing script, until a strong, domineering seemingly intoxicated man gets “pushed to the edge”, then it doesn’t.

    Don’t know what world Goodell grew up in or for that matter the fat party boys surrounding him they should have tossed Rice the minute after watching this. Were they protecting him, the team, or the brand? All 3?

    Also, were the guests standing around while woozy Janay tried to sit up interviewed? How about the woman who was comforting her? Did Ray tell everyone she was drunk and fell and hit her head, why wasn’t he helping her, what was he saying? Of course they both would say it was mutual, he’s the meal ticket. Now, Nothing like this: Ray Rice signed a 5 year / $35 million contract with the Baltimore Ravens, including a $15,000,000 signing bonus, $15,000,000 guaranteed, and an annual average salary of $7,000,000.

    • bloopie2 says:

      Geez, what would you do to her if he had drunkenly killed her, instead? Reinstate him after a year, like Josh Brent?

      • scribe says:

        “…what would you do … if he had runkenly killed her, instead?”

        You gotta call in Ray Lewis as a consultant to answer that one. The Ravens have him on retainer….

  7. emptywheel says:

    Really well summarized. I think it’s a great description of what the video does show.

    And yet the NFL seems to have seen something entirely different.

  8. Questioner says:

    Marcy —

    I think you should be more clear about what you mean here. A lot of people, you included, are acting like the female has ZERO fault in this. That’s obviously false, and I’d like to hear you articulate exactly what you think her fault in this was, instead of just ridiculing the suggestion that she owns any of the fault and demeaning his actions — as clearly excessive as they were.

    You said: “It suggests that because Rice’s then fiancée swung at him, he was justified in belting her, which led her to lose consciousness. (It’s not clear to me whether the blow itself or hitting her head on the railing knocked her out). That might explain why she issued an apology at the time, because obviously swinging at Rice and getting knocked out in response makes it all her fault.”

    I really respect your writing, but there are several strawman arguments in the above, exactly the kind you call out people in government for making everyday.

    “It suggests that because Rice’s then fiancée swung at him, he was justified in belting her, which led her to lose consciousness.”

    Rather than ‘that certain perverse logic’ suggesting that he was justified in belting her, I think a reasonable person would think a couple things

    1) that if he didn’t instigate the physical contact, on either the push or the first punch, that he doesn’t own 100% of the fault for the altercation. It’s not perverse to conclude that since he did not instigate it, he doesn’t own the full fault — that’s pretty sound logic actually. How much does she own, that’s up for debate — probably not a lot — but definitely some. Are we supposed to think women get a free pass for assaulting men? That’s the strawman implication here.

    A lot of people seem to think it’s ok to put forward the idea that if a woman assaults a man, no matter how it happens or their relative size, the woman can never under any circumstances be accountable for anything that happens afterword. This is a strawman and frankly below the normal level of commentary here.

    Since so one wants to put a number on it or quantify it — that’s my question: what fault does she have for assaulting him? Some, a little, a lot — this is the elephant in the room no one wants to address and people would rather play word games about that come clean and address.

    Note: She was initially charged with assault in this incident (probably because she initiated the assault). Does that not mean anything to anybody? It did to the police until he decided not to press charges.

    2) You say “That might explain why she issued an apology at the time, because obviously swinging at Rice and getting knocked out in response makes it all her fault.”

    Another strawman. No one is saying ‘it’s all her fault’ but in the media environment we live in it’s totally beyond the pale to say it’s even a ‘little bit’ her fault without being called a misogynist.

    Taking that line of argument further, how many times would she have had to hit him for you to be ok with him retaliating physically? Nobody wants to answer that, clearly there’s an answer but everyone wants to play rhetorical games and act like the white knight of chivalry and say ‘the answer is never’ when we all know that’s not true, legally or logically.

    The real answer is probably until he thought he was in physical danger — which he clearly wasn’t here. But instead of that real discussion we get the strawman ‘immediately all her fault’ argument, implying that up until the moment she assaults him several times and causes real harm she has zero fault. That’s just wrong. Her fault began when she assaulted him, she owns a part of this, to suggest otherwise is in contrary to the laws governing assault and logic.

    3) from the comments section: “Saltinwound on September 8, 2014 at 1:02 pm — Morally, I agree. Legally, does her taking the swing at him change anything?”

    Yes, it does. But….crickets.

    She was initially charged with assault (can’t find the link), if he perused it he probably could have had her convicted based on the video evidence. He was also charged with assault for using inappropriate force. No one, no one, nobody wants to have that discussion. How much force can you legally use on a woman who is attacking you? It’s a media third rail.

    Instead even sites like this one that are great at cutting through other’s bs make strawman arguments putting 100% of the fault on the man — who I can’t express enough here acted totally wrongly — but that still doesn’t make that false argument hold any more water.

    Ray Rice owns much of the fault for this happening. His actions were terrible and unnecessary and unforgivable. But I can’t read a site like this that calls out blatant falsehoods and let people trot out the argument that either side was 100% at fault or that saying she doesn’t own at least a tiny bit of this is ‘perverse logic.’ That just not the truth.

  9. P J Evans says:

    The NFL is now saying that they didn’t see the video from the elevator camera, even though they knew the casino had it.

    • RUKidding says:

      I’m agree. I haven’t watched any videos and have tried to avoid still photos. I know that Janay is upset with the videos going viral, and I don’t blame her. It’s victimizing her over and over again. Most unfortunate.

  10. RUKidding says:

    There seems to be some skepticism about the NFL NOT watching the video, but clearly their legal team has duly instructed them to say it.

    IMO, the world of BigSports is rife with this kind of male on female beating/raping/bullying, or even male on animal beating/bullying (and possibly raping??). But they all seem to get away with it. Remember Kobe Bryant?

    I know young women who’ve been sexually harassed (or claimed they were but I tend to believe this) more recently by Charles Barkley & Michael Jordan (don’t forget that those 2 were BFFs with Tiger Woods & regularly partied with Tiger in the higher eschelons of Viva Las Vegas).

    These BigSports players – esp those who are really good (eg make the usually WHITE owners a lotta money) – typically get away with it.

    That said, let’s face it, even high school athletes routinely – still to this day – get away with this kind of stuff. We live in a very misogynistic society, who love to believe in the old adage: she had it coming anyway bc, if she got raped/beaten, she MUST be a skank.

    Someone posted something from Fox yesterday where I believe (no link, sorry) Steve Doocey was basically saying: if only Rice had done this somewhere off camera and away from the crowds… as in: Rice’s ONLY mistake was having his steroid-induced beatings caught on candid camera.

    That’s way things roll.

  11. Rayne says:

    (Ugh, I meant to get here yesterday about this…)

    What I want to know: Why did the Ravens and the NFL need more than the police documentation, including the complaint/court summons issued ~7 months ago, to take action?

    Complaint/court summons (PDF from TMZ site; there are other copies with much less redaction out on the net)

    The complaint reads,

    By certification or on oath, the complainant says that to the best of his/her knowledge, information and belief the named defendant on or about 02-15-2014 in ATLANTIC CITY, ATLANTIC COUNTY, NJ did:

    (emphasis mine)

    This appears to have been sworn out and signed by an Atlantic City police officer on 15-FEB-2014.

    Even if the Ravens and the NFL had only seen the video of Rice dragging his unconscious fiance around outside the elevator, why is this complaint not enough on the face of it to suspend Rice indefinitely — as of February 2014?

    I’m looking for a copy of a letter I’d read yesterday (should have copied it then, damn it) issued by either police or district attorney shortly after the assault. The text in that letter does not jibe with the complaint. It looked to me as if law enforcement was complicit in covering up what happened. I can’t recall the addressee to whom the letter had been sent; it may have offered the Ravens and NFL plausible deniability, sweeping the complaint under the rug with a new, sanitized explanation of what happened on 15-FEB.

    The letter made mention of mutual behavior, implicating Janay Palmer–but tell me how anyone could be a reliable witness after being clocked like that, or that she would say anything prejudicial against Rice given the possibility of bodily harm.

    As Keith Olbermann said yesterday, there was a cover-up, followed by malfeasance and incompetence he outlines in detail. A lot of heads should roll.

  12. Rayne says:

    Ooze still leaking out from under the rocks. You know there must be more coming, too.

    15-FEB-2014 — Rice assaults Palmer 

    19-FEB-2014 — Video of Rice dragging Palmer out of elevator ‘leaks’

    27-MAR-2014 — Rice indicted on assault charges

    09-APR-2014 —  NFL received video on/about this date

    01-MAY-2014 — Plea deal rejected by Rice, accepts intervention program in attempt to avoid jail time

    24-JUL-2014 —  NFL suspends Rice 2 games

    28-AUG-2014 — NFL announces new domestic violence policy

    08-SEP-2014 — Video of Rice assaulting Palmer inside elevator surfaces

    It took the NFL 4 months to react to indictment, ~10 weeks to respond to rejected plea deal, a month to respond to public outcry about 2-game suspension. Jeebus. Totally out of touch.

    Believe that intervention program was 6 months duration, intended for 1st time charged abusers. Ostensibly Rice might be done in November if he started in May.

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