USA Today‘s Tom Pelissero updates the state of play in the Ray-Rice-is-a-terrible-human-being case:
The NFL has hired former FBI director Robert S. Mueller III to investigate the league’s pursuit and handling of evidence in the Ray Rice domestic violence case after a report Wednesday that a league executive received videotape evidence five months before it became public.
New York Giants owner John Mara and Pittsburgh Steelers owner Art Rooney will oversee the investigation, and the final report will be made public, according to league’s statement, which noted Commissioner Roger Goodell has pledged the full cooperation of NFL personnel and access to all league records.
The announcement came hours after the Associated Press published a report citing an unnamed law enforcement official who said he sent a tape of Rice punching his then-fiancée to an NFL executive long before the video surfaced on TMZ.com on Monday, leading to Rice’s release from the Baltimore Ravens and his indefinite suspension by the league.
The law enforcement official — speaking to the AP on condition of anonymity because of the ongoing investigation — also played the AP a 12-second voicemail from an NFL office number on April 9 confirming the video arrived. A female voice expresses thanks and says: “You’re right. It’s terrible.”
The NFL commissioner may have thought he’d put the Ray Rice issue behind him after the elevator video was released to the public, but now it’s being alleged that the league actually did get a copy of the video before Goodell suspended Rice for a token two-game stretch. Ace thinks this might have been Goodell’s reasoning for doing as he did:
Could that be Goodell’s spin? “I knew about it, but I had to protect a source”?
Although this spin won’t save Goodell, part of his thinking might have been this:
1. This punch is atrocious, a potentially lethal full-on boxer’s knockout punch.
2. However, the evidence of this is currently being withheld from the public by law.
3. Even though I know about this tape, I cannot use it as the basis for my decision, as it is in my hands illegally.
4. Further, I could not explain to the public, nor to the NFL Player’s union, the reasons for a severe punishment, because they would cry foul and cry “PC over-punishment!” unless they see this horror in real time, which I have seen, but they have not, and maybe never will.
I don’t know if that’s what they were thinking (assuming Goodell saw it, and frankly, I don’t know how he could not have seen it — This is his job; punishing a player for an infraction is not something you delegate to the branch office in Cincinnati like Lois Lerner did (wink, wink)), and I doubt this would cut much ice even it it were.
Even if Goodell didn’t think he could suspend Rice indefinitely absent the public unveiling of the tape — Two Game Suspension? When another guy just got a four game suspension for some minor substance abuse rap?