The NFL did not have early access to a video showing former Baltimore Ravens running back Ray Rice beating and knocking out his then-fiancée, Janay Palmer, in an Atlantic City elevator on Feb. 15, 2014, a long-awaited independent report released on Thursday said. The probe, led by former FBI director Robert Mueller, sought to determine whether the NFL did in fact have the graphic inside-the-elevator video in March, which the league denied. The video became widely seen when it was posted on the website TMZ in September.
Mueller and his team also found no evidence that a female NFL employee left a voicemail with the Associated Press acknowledging she received the full video before it was publicly available. The investigators interviewed more than 50 NFL employees, including Commissioner Roger Goodell, and every female who was in the NFL offices when that voicemail was reportedly left, and all denied being the employee in question or having any knowledge of it, the report said.
They also examined nearly every piece of recordable information that went to or from NFL offices during the time the video was allegedly sent. They looked at mail, “millions of documents, emails and text messages,” and telephone calls, finding no evidence the video was received by the NFL. Investigators also set up an anonymous tip line for employees regarding the incident and received no calls, according to the report.
Despite not having the video, the report said the NFL “should have done more with the info it had, and it should have taken additional steps to obtain all available information,” according to NFL.com. The incident appeared serious enough from a different, outside-the-elevator video, which the NFL received in February, to warrant a more comprehensivfe investigation.
The Ravens did not notify the NFL of the in-elevator video, despite being briefed in detail of its content prior to the video becoming public knowledge. Both the Associated Press and the Atlantic City Police Department did not cooperate with investigators seeking information regarding their knowledge of the incident, which occurred at the Revel casino hotel.
Investigators recommended the NFL expand its security department, create a team to specifically handle domestic abuse cases, codify investigatory practices and ensure teams share information with the NFL.
The NFL commissioned Mueller to investigate the incident in September after considerable public backlash over what many called a cover-up of a serious domestic assault case. The league suspended Rice for four games in July, then suspended him indefinitely after the public backlash. Rice appealed his suspension and won. He is a free agent and can sign with any team in 2015. He married Palmer on March 28.
A summary of the report can be read here, via NFL.com.