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Late touchdown pass gives Saints 21-7 lead at half

Jimmy Graham, Miles Burris, Dave Tollefson AP

The Raiders kept the Saints offense in check for much of the first half, but they couldn’t get off the field in time to stop them from taking a two touchdown lead.

Drew Brees hit Lance Moore with a 38-yard touchdown pass with 50 seconds to play in the second quarter, handing the Saints a 21-7 lead right after two defensive plays sparked some hope that they might tie the game before the half. Cornerback Joselio Hanson forced tight end Jimmy Graham to fumble after a catch, but Graham recovered. Brees took an intentional grounding penalty on the next play to set up a long third down that turned into the touchdown to Moore.

Up until that point, the Saints had struggled to generate much offensively after their opening drive ended with a one-yard touchdown pass to Graham. They were able to do enough on the two scoring drives to make up for the lack of production in between.

One thing that could help their defense is the Saints’ loss of right tackle Charles Brown. He was carted off the field with a right knee injury. Zach Strief is inactive, leaving rookie Bryce Harris on the right side and he gave up pressures on his first couple of plays.

The Raiders wouldn’t have needed a hold there to stay within easy striking distance if not for a pair of Carson Palmer interceptions. Malcolm Jenkins took one 55 yards for a touchdown and Roman Harper nabbed the other one in the end zone to end a nine-minute Raiders drive without any points. Marcel Reese has done well on the ground and in the air, but the Raiders will need to cut out the mistakes on offense to have a shot in the second half of this one.

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In Rice case, what does “accountable” really mean?

Goodell AP

Commissioner Roger Goodell has said on multiple occasions that he’s accountable for the many problems with the Ray Rice investigation and ultimate suspension.  But what does it really mean to be accountable?

For players, coaches, team executives, and owners who break the rules, it means fines and suspensions.  For teams, it means fines and the potential loss of draft picks or salary cap space.

For folks in the league office, accountability looks to be simply a word.

To confirm that, look no farther that the deposition given by Goodell in the Super Bowl ticket fiasco lawsuit.  PFT has obtained a copy of the 317-page document, and an intriguing exchange between Goodell and lawyer Michael Avenatti begins at page 119.  It appears below.

Q.  Who has been held accountable, if anyone, with the NFL with regard to what happened with the temporary seats?

Attorney Thad Behrens:  Objection, vague.

Goodell:  What do you mean, accountable?

Q.  Have you ever used the word accountable?

Goodell:  Yes, sir.

Q.  All right.  What do you understand the word accountable to mean?

Goodell:  You’ve asked me in the beginning that you wanted me to make sure that I understand the question.  I’m trying to understand your question.

Q.  That’s not my question.  My question is what do you generally — what have you generally understood the word accountability to mean when you’ve used it.

Goodell:  Is that the first question that you asked or — I’m asking for a clarification on your question.

Q.  I’m going to strike the question and I’m going to ask you another question.

Goodell:  Okay.

Q.  All right.  What have you generally understood the word accountable to mean when you’ve used it?

Goodell:  That you are responsible, and that you take responsibility.

Q.  And that you make good on your failure, right?

Attorney Thad Behrens:   Objection.  It mischaracterizes his testimony.

Goodell:  I think I answered your question.

Q.  Have you held anyone with the NFL accountable for the failures relating to the temporary seats at Super Bowl 45?

Attorney Thad Behrens:  Objection, vague.  You can answer.

Goodell:  Again, I’ve been very clear.  We’re all accountable for this.  Our staff has worked hard to contact those fans to make the offer.  We continue to still make good on those offers, and we will do so.  So yes, we’re all accountable for that.

Q.  Have you caused anyone to be disciplined in connection with their — the failures relating to the temporary seat issues at Super Bowl 45?

Goodell:  To be disciplined?

Q.  Yeah.  You’re familiar — you’re familiar with the word disciplined, right?

Goodell:  Yes.

Q.  Okay.  I mean you hand out discipline on a consistent basis, in connection with being the leader of the NFL, in an effort to protect the shield, right?

Attorney Thad Behrens:  Objection.  You’re badgering the witness.

Goodell:  (Laughing).

Q.  No, I’m stating a fact.  I mean he — it’s well known that he does that.  Right, Mr. Goodell?

Attorney Thad Behrens:  Objection.  This is outside the scope.

Goodell:  I apply discipline –

Q.  Okay.

Goodell:  — in the context of violation of our policies.

Q.  All right.

Goodell:  — when a team violates policies, lawyer or other individuals involved with the NFL.

Q.  Have you applied any discipline whatsoever in connection with the failures surrounding the temporary seating issues at Super Bowl 45?

Goodell:  Discipline wouldn’t be the word I would use.  There are people that recognize our responsibility, and there was an impact for that, for all of us.

Q.  Have you caused anyone to lose their job over the failures in connection with the Super Bowl 45 temporary seats?

Goodell:  No, I have not.

The questioning then focused on whether any employee has suffered a consequence to his or her job because of the Super Bowl ticket fiasco.  Goodell explained that, generally, it can affect bonus payments and promotions.  Pressed for the name of any person affected by the situation, Goodell did not provide one.

Many have assumed that, in the Rice case, one or more key employees of the league office will be held accountable with the loss of their jobs.  Based on the Super Bowl ticket fiasco, however, that assumption could be erroneous.

After all, if anyone in the upper reaches of the NFL loses his job now, it could become very hard to explain why the axe of accountability didn’t fall one level higher.

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Vikings add Charles Johnson to fill Adrian Peterson’s roster spot

charlesjohnson AP

The Vikings have added a player to the roster to fill the spot vacated by putting Adrian Peterson on the exempt/commissioner’s permission list that most people had never heard of until this crazy week in the NFL.

That player is receiver Charles Johnson, who was signed off the Browns’ practice squad.

Johnson was initially a seventh-round pick of the Packers last year and didn’t make Green Bay’s 53-man roster but did make the practice squad. The Browns then signed Johnson away from the Packers’ practice squad and put him on the active roster, although he didn’t play in any regular-season games.

Vikings offensive coordinator Norv Turner was the Browns’ offensive coordinator last year, so Johnson arrives already knowing Turner’s offense.

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Ravens reiterate that ESPN report contains “inaccuracies,” without identifying one

Byrne Getty Images

In response to Friday afternoon’s bombshell report from ESPN regarding the Ravens’ gross mishandling of the Ray Rice investigation, the Ravens said only that the report contains “numerous errors, inaccuracies, false assumptions and, perhaps, misunderstandings.”

But the Ravens didn’t mention a single error, inaccuracy, false assumption, or misunderstanding. And they still haven’t.

Speaking to the media in connection with the Ray Rice jersey exchange, in which more than 7,000 fans participated, Ravens spokesman Kevin Byrne said (via Rick Ritter of CBS Baltimore), “There are inaccuracies in the report. We’ve been transparent and will continue to be.”

Exactly when have the Ravens been transparent?  Sure, plenty of folks started talking after the second Rice video was released.  Before that, however, the Ravens seemed to be focused on privately and publicly propping up Rice, wrapping their arms around him even though, according to the ESPN report, the organization knew that he had swung his closed fist into his then-fiancée’s jaw, knocking her “the f–k out.”

This is new territory for us,” Byrne said.  “It’s an unusual time for the franchise.  We’re learning as we go.”

They need to be learning — and they need to be sharing — exactly what they contend is wrong with the ESPN report.  If there are “numerous errors, inaccuracies, false assumptions and, perhaps, misunderstandings,” it should be easy to identify and rebut them.  After all, the topic has been a fairly hot one for the franchise in the last 12 days, and previously.

“Right now we’re focused on Cleveland and will address this next week,” Byrne said.

Sorry, but that’s not good enough.  The story is too big and its implications too significant to justify hiding behind a looming game day.  Besides, it’s not as if the players will be the ones crafting the response.

The deliberate delay creates the impression not of transparency but more damage control.  Instead of standing up and telling the truth, it seems the Ravens have used the cover of an approaching contest to justify planning and plotting a plausible response to the report.  One that will preserve the employment of as many people as possible.  One that will keep the league office from dropping the hammer on anyone who may have misrepresented to the Commissioner the severity of the incident.

One that will keep relevant law-enforcement officials from commencing the process of exploring whether any state of federal laws were broken in connection with the team’s apparent effort to minimize Rice’s ultimate legal responsibility, to shorten his suspension, and to keep the public from realizing exactly what Rice had done.

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Underappreciated Darren Sproles glad to show “I still have it”

sproles AP

Darren Sproles has been underappreciated throughout his football career. Maybe that changed after his fantastic performance on Monday night, but probably not.

Sproles, who in leading the Eagles to a win over the Colts on Monday night became the first player ever to top 150 receiving yards, 25 rushing yards and 25 punt return yards in the same game, thinks he may have proven some people wrong if they believed before that game that he was slowing down at age 31.

“It’s just telling some people that I still have it,” Sproles told “It’s still me. That’s the reason I do it.”

To see how underappreciated Sproles has been, just consider:

– Sproles has never been selected to a Pro Bowl — not even the year he set the NFL’s all-time record for total yards in a season. As noted by, Sproles has more all-purpose yards than any player since he entered the NFL in 2005, and every other player in the top 10 in all-purpose yards since 2005 has been to at least two Pro Bowls.

– Sproles lasted until the fourth round of the NFL draft despite an All-American career at Kansas State and an insanely impressive Combine workout that showed off not just his good speed and agility but incredible upper-body strength: He managed 23 reps on the 225-pound bench press, a stronger showing than many big, powerful NFL running backs including Marshawn Lynch (20 reps) and Steven Jackson (16 reps).

– After four excellent seasons with the Chargers, they let him walk. After three excellent seasons with the Saints, they traded him for a fifth-round draft pick.

The Eagles are the beneficiaries of that. Chip Kelly has raved about Sproles not only for what he does in games but for his work ethic, calling him, “the most fit guy on the team.” The Eagles may be the first team that really appreciates how much Sproles has to offer.

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Details of Kaepernick fine still not clear

Kaepernick AP

The NFL has fined 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick for “direct[ing] abusive language toward your opponent.”  Kaepernick has appealed.  Beyond that, not much is known.

The incident happened after the conclusion of a play in the fourth quarter of Sunday night’s game against the Bears.  It drew both a flag and, as of Tuesday, a fine in the amount of $11,025.

The infraction arises under Rule 12, Section 3, Article 1(b) of the official rules, which prohibits “[t]he use of abusive, threatening or insulting language or gestures to opponents, teammates, officials, or representatives of the League.”

While Kaepernick has maintained that he said nothing offensive or profane, he is accused of using abusive language.  It’s unclear what that includes, especially since (per a source with knowledge of the situation) the letter informing Kaepernick of the fine doesn’t say what he supposedly said.

Kaepernick’s appeal process will shed plenty of light on the situation.  The league and the team undoubtedly will be scouring over any and all available audio generated by NFL Films or by the team.  Coincidentally, the 49ers had a microphone on receiver Michael Crabtree during the game.  A replay of the apparent incident, following an interception thrown by Kaepernick, shows Crabtree in Kaepernick’s immediate vicinity.

From the NBC broadcast, it’s clear that Bears defensive lineman Lamarr Houston gave Kaepernick a Cliff-Harris-to-Roy-Gerela-style attaboy after the turnover, that Kaeperick responded with a one-handed shove, and that side judge Laird Hayes intervened as the two men were jawing at each other. Perhaps Crabtree’s microphone or some other device picked up what Kaepernick said.

Either way, the details of this one will help all players understand what they can and can’t say during a game.

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Adrian Peterson breaks silence to say he asked for a polygraph

peterson AP

Adrian Peterson has made his first public comment since Wednesday, when the Vikings cast him aside as a result of widespread outrage following his indictment on charges of injuring his son. And his comment is that he asked for a polygraph test.

Peterson wrote on Twitter that he made the polygraph test and added, “Share that as well!” in an apparent belief that it’s an important part of the story that has been publicly overlooked.

It’s unclear why Peterson thinks that’s an important thing to share. A polygraph, or lie detector, is not particularly reliable and is not admissible in court. It’s also irrelevant to a case like Peterson’s, where the accused has already admitted what he did: Peterson acknowledged both to the police and through a statement released by his attorney that he beat his son with a switch, causing cuts and bruises to his son’s legs, back, buttocks and scrotum. The question a jury will ultimately settle is whether that constitutes negligent or reckless injury to a child under Texas law, not whether Peterson is telling the truth about what happened.

So let’s assume that Peterson asked for a polygraph because he wants to show he is telling the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth about the “whooping” he says he gave his son. That changes nothing about the fact that the “whooping” left his son injured.

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Jameis Winston just doesn’t get it

jameis AP

Jameis Winston just doesn’t get it.

Winston, Florida State’s Heisman Trophy-winning quarterback, doesn’t get how a leader is supposed to act, or for that matter how a decent human being is supposed to act. He certainly doesn’t get how NFL teams — all of them shaken over the last two weeks by the increased scrutiny on players’ off-field misconduct — want their quarterbacks to conduct themselves.

Florida State announced late last night that Winston will not play at all in today’s game against Clemson. He had initially been suspended for the first half of the game for screaming an obscene phrase in the student union; the suspension for the second half reportedly comes because Florida State discovered that Winston lied to school authorities about some of the circumstances surrounding that incident.

Winston, of course, has had many prior off-field incidents that will make NFL teams question whether his immense talent is worth the headaches. By far the most serious is the accusation from a female Florida State student that he raped her. Winston was not charged, and the Tallahassee Police Department botched that investigation so thoroughly that we’ll never know what really happened.

Winston’s other incidents were far less serious than a sexual assault, but the sum total of them is to question whether he cares at all about the potential consequences of his actions: He was arrested for shoplifting crab legs. He was involved in a BB gun battle that damaged his apartment complex, and hours later Florida State police stopped him and handcuffed him for carrying a pellet gun near campus (he said he was using it to shoot at squirrels). Before last season’s national championship game, Florida State coach Jimbo Fisher kicked Winston out of practice and explained later that he wanted Winston to understand that “it’s not about you.”

Add all these things up, and it’s easy to see why NFL teams would decide that they simply don’t want to deal with Winston, no matter how good a quarterback he is. Winston appears to be a player with great talent who lacks the maturity to be a franchise quarterback. Kind of like Ryan Leaf.

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Goodell defends Mueller’s investigation

Mueller Getty Images

When is an independent investigation not really independent?  It depends.

Actually, it doesn’t.  True independence includes both the ability and willingness to ask questions and to make decisions unfettered by any concern other than getting to the truth.

For investigations that are aimed at securing the confidence of the public at large, the appearance of independence also becomes critical.

Commissioner Roger Goodell blurred those lines while defending on Friday the decision to ask former FBI director Robert Mueller to investigate the NFL’s handling of the Ray Rice case.  Whether Mueller actually behaves independent of any concern other than getting to the truth will be impossible to prove without getting inside his mind.  While his extensive service as FBI director provides a patina of credibility, plenty of people who have held plenty of big titles have succumbed to human nature or other factors that result in the person straying from the goal of doing the right thing in every situation and circumstance.

The bigger question is the appearance of independence.  The selection of an employee of a law firm with multiple tentacles to the NFL prevents the investigation from having the appearance that it will indeed be independent.

“The law firm that he works for is a law firm with extremely close ties to the NFL,” CNN’s Rachel Nichols said to Goodell.  “You guys paid that law firm to help you negotiate some television deals.  The president of the Ravens, who will be key in this whole investigation, worked at that law firm for more than 30 years.  Why hire someone with even the appearance of impropriety and how do you expect us to accept everything?”

“I respectfully disagree,” Goodell said.  “You are questioning the integrity of the director of the FBI.  Yes, that firm has represented us in the past.  They have also been on the other side in litigation against the NFL.  So this is a highly respected individual, the longest serving director in the FBI.”

Nichols wasn’t satisfied.  (J. Edgar Hoover probably wasn’t, either.)

“Part of the idea of this is to restore public trust,” she said.  “So even if he does a flawless investigation isn’t there an element here of your leaving the door open for doubt?”

“Well, Rachel, unfortunately we live in a world where there is a lot of litigation,” Goodell said.  “A lot of law firms and maybe people have had some interaction with us in the past.  Robert Mueller has not.  The law firm may have.  We are hiring Robert Mueller, his credentials to do an independent investigation reporting to the owners and I’m confident that will be the case.”

But there are thousands of law firms and thousands of lawyers capable of doing a fair and impartial investigation.  Mueller’s appointment gives the investigation credibility on the surface, because he ran the FBI.  The failure to pick a lawyer from a firm with no past connection and, most importantly, no aspiration for any future connection to the NFL prevents the investigation from having the appearance of independence.

Ultimately, the decision to pick Mueller was just another mistake in the chain of blunders that has turned the NFL on its head.  At a time when it’s become very popular for people connected to the NFL to talk about getting it right, how about we stop saying it and start doing it?

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Josh McCown expected to miss several games with thumb injury

joshmccown Getty Images

A bad start to the season for Buccaneers quarterback Josh McCown is getting worse.

The thumb injury McCown suffered in Thursday night’s loss in Atlanta is likely to force McCown to miss “several weeks,” a source told Alex Marvez of FOX Sports.

That would mean Mike Glennon, the 2013 third-round pick who became the starter during his rookie year, will start. Glennon showed some promise during his rookie season, but the new regime in Tampa obviously didn’t think he was ready to start, because the Bucs gave McCown a two-year, $10 million contract this offseason to become the starter.

Unfortunately, McCown hasn’t done much with the starting job: After throwing just one interception in 224 passes last season, McCown has thrown four interceptions in just 68 passes this season. Although Bucs coach Lovie Smith has insisted that McCown is the starter when healthy, Glennon will get an opportunity to show he deserves to keep the starting job.

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Week Three skill position injury report — Friday

Arian Foster AP

Here’s a rundown of skill position players in Sunday games listed on the Week Three injury report. Inactives are declared 90 minutes before game time:


Giants WR Odell Beckham (hamstring).

Washington QB Robert Griffin III (ankle).

Saints RB Mark Ingram (hand).

Bengals WR Marvin Jones (foot).

Jaguars WR Marqise Lee (hamstring).

Saints RB Erik Lorig (ankle).

Chargers RB Ryan Mathews (knee).

Dolphins RB Knowshon Moreno (elbow).

Washington TE Jordan Reed (hamstring).

Bengals TE Alex Smith (biceps).

Browns RB Ben Tate (knee).

Chiefs RB/WR De’Anthony Thomas (hamstring).


Steelers RB Dri Archer (ankle).

Bengals RB Rex Burkhead (knee).

Eagles WR Josh Huff (shoulder).

Lions RB Montell Owens (hamstring).

Panthers RB Fozzy Whittaker (thigh).


Chargers WR Keenan Allen (groin).

Rams WR Tavon Austin (knee).

Panthers WR Jason Avant (thigh).

Cowboys WR Dez Bryant (shoulder).

Browns TE Jordan Cameron (shoulder).

Chiefs RB Jamaal Charles (ankle).

Dolphins TE Charles Clay (knee).

Panthers WR Jerricho Cotchery (thigh).

49ers TE Vernon Davis (ankle, knee).

Cowboys TE Gavin Escobar (knee).

Washington PK Kai Forbath (right groin).

Texans RB Arian Foster (hamstring).

Chiefs RB Cyrus Gray (foot).

Jaguars TE Clay Harbor (calf).

Rams TE Cory Harkey (knee).

Rams QB Shaun Hill (thigh).

Cardinals TE Rob Housler (hip).

Washington WR DeSean Jackson (shoulder).

Raiders RB Maurice Jones-Drew (hand).

49ers TE Vance McDonald (knee).

Colts WR Hakeem Nicks (illness).

Cardinals QB Carson Palmer (right shoulder).

Ravens RB Bernard Pierce (thigh).

Cowboys RB Joseph Randle (concussion).

Vikings WR Rodney Smith (hamstring).

Raiders WR Rod Streater (hip).

Patriots RB Shane Vereen (shoulder).

Panthers RB DeAngelo Williams (thigh).


Lions RB Joique Bell (knee).

Panthers WR Kelvin Benjamin (knee).

Browns WR Travis Benjamin (knee).

Panthers WR Corey Brown (ankle).

Steelers WR Martavis Bryant (shoulder).

Cardinals RB Andre Ellington (foot).

Eagles TE Zach Ertz (knee).

Texans TE C.J. Fiedorowicz (foot).

Ravens QB Joe Flacco (illness).

Chargers TE Antonio Gates (hamstring).

Jaguars RB Toby Gerhart (foot).

Texans TE Garrett Graham (ankle).

Bengals WR A.J. Green (toe).

Patriots TE Rob Gronkowski (knee).

Seahawks TE Cooper Helfet (knee).

Washington RB Roy Helu (quadricep).

Colts WR T.Y. Hilton (groin).

Jaguars WR Allen Hurns (ankle).

49ers RB Carlos Hyde (calf).

Texans WR Andre Johnson (ankle).

Jaguars RB Storm Johnson (ankle).

49ers QB Colin Kaepernick (back).

Seahawks RB Marshawn Lynch (back).

Titans RB Dexter McCluster (foot).

Broncos PK Brandon McManus (right groin).

Seahawks RB Christine Michael (hamstring).

Steelers TE Heath Miller (not injury related).

Seahawks TE Zach Miller (ankle).

Steelers WR Lance Moore (groin).

Saints WR Joe Morgan (knee).

Panthers TE Greg Olsen (calf).

Vikings WR Cordarrelle Patterson (chest).

Cowboys QB Tony Romo (back).

Vikings TE Kyle Rudolph (abdomen).

Jaguars WR Cecil Shorts (hamstring).

Eagles WR Brad Smith (groin).

Panthers RB Mike Tolbert (chest).

Bills WR Sammy Watkins (ribs).

Titans QB Charlie Whitehurst (right finger).

Bills WR Robert Woods (ankle).

Washington RB Darrel Young (neck).

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Bruschi says it’s time for a new Commissioner

Goodell AP

So how is Commissioner Roger Goodell’s Friday press conference being received?  Based on a couple of former players who currently work for ESPN, not too good.

On ESPN, Mark Schlereth and Tedy Bruschi made some strong comments in response to Goodell’s remarks.  Bruschi’s remarks were particularly pointed, and strong.

We needed someone to go up there and be a leader,” Bruschi said.  “To be a leader and say something substantial.  To give all of the public out there, all of the fans, all of the former players, all of the current players.  To give them hope that things will be done right, and that wasn’t done because I don’t think Roger Goodell is the guy that can do that anymore.”

Bruschi then was reminded that Goodell has said he hasn’t considered resigning.

“Fixing a mistake is one thing, but he can’t escape this,” Bruschi said.  “He can’t escape this.  Because the NFL, a big thing about them also is image.  How the NFL is portrayed.  And as long as Roger Goodell is leading the NFL and he’s the face behind the shield, you will have the same emotions you had today, watching that press conference, listening to him speak in circles, wondering, ‘Man, what is this guy talking about?’  So as you continue and move forward and Roger Goodell is the Commissioner, you will continue to feel that way every time you see him.

“In my opinion, in my personal opinion, being a former player that spent 13 years in this league trying to do the right thing, I want a new Commissioner to lead my league.  I want a new Commissioner to go out there and say the right things and be that leader, because right now, Roger Goodell is not that.  And I don’t think he can ever be that.  Roger Goodell needs to step down and move on, and we need new leadership.  The big reset button needs to be pressed on the NFL right now, and it starts by Roger Goodell stepping down.”

That won’t happen until owners begin to share Bruschi’s feelings.  Currently, there’s no indication that any do.  After Friday’s events, from a heavily criticized press conference to another bombshell report from ESPN suggesting a full-blown coverup, who knows where this thing is heading?

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ESPN stands by its Ravens report

Rice Getty Images

The Ravens contend that ESPN’s very thorough, heavily detailed, and thoroughly troubling report regarding the Ravens’ mishandling of the Ray Rice investigation contains “numerous errors, inaccuracies, false assumptions and, perhaps, misunderstandings.”  But the Ravens haven’t identified any “errors, inaccuracies, false assumptions and, perhaps, misunderstandings.”

Regardless, ESPN isn’t flinching.

“We stand by our reporting,” an ESPN spokesman told PFT on Friday night.

Considering that ESPN once canceled the popular Playmakers series under overt and express pressure from former Commissioner Paul Tagliabue, it’s safe to assume ESPN dotted all i’s and crossed all t’s before loading the cannon and aiming it at the Ravens and, as a practical matter, the league office.  The fact that ESPN and the NFL have a multi-billion-dollar broadcast partnership makes the report inherently more credible.

Put simply, ESPN isn’t going to swing and miss on something this important when it potentially undermines such an important relationship.

Meanwhile, the Ravens seem to be flailing.  If they dispute any, some, or all of the facts contained in the report, they should say so.  Surely, they know whether each and every allegation or statement on such an important and persistent issue is true.  Addressing the alleged “errors, inaccuracies, false assumptions and, perhaps, misunderstandings” should be simple.

Under the circumstances, it’s definitely necessary.

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ESPN report makes it clear Cass knew contents of video

Cass Getty Images

The excellent ESPN report regarding the Ravens’ mishandling of the Ray Rice investigation paints a troubling picture regarding the role of the team’s president in the investigation and, perhaps more accurately, the coverup of its details.

According to Don Van Natta, Jr. and Kevin Van Valkenburg of ESPN, Ravens president Dick Cass learned in early April that the contents of the video from inside the elevator were deeply troubling.  Specifically, lawyer Michael Diamondstein told Cass that the video is “f–king horrible,” and that Rice “knocked her the f–k out.”

Per the report, Cass began urging Diamondstein to get Rice accepted into a pretrial intervention program.  Among the benefits Cass reportedly articulated to Diamondstein was the fact that the video of the incident would not be made public.

The Ravens repeatedly have criticized the prosecution for allowing Rice to enter into the intervention program based on such heinous conduct.  But the report from Van Natta and Van Valkenburg contends that prosecutors initially rejected the intervention program.  Only after Diamondstein produced nearly 30 letters of support (including one from Cass, G.M. Ozzie Newsom, and coach John Harbaugh) did the prosecution agree.

The Ravens contend that the ESPN report contains “numerous errors, inaccuracies, false assumptions and, perhaps, misunderstandings,” but the Ravens have identified none of them yet.  Apparently, the list alleged errors, inaccuracies, false assumptions, and perhaps misunderstanding is coming next week, after their game against the Browns.

Sorry, but that’s not nearly good enough.  One of the league’s billion-dollar network partners has pinned on the Ravens and the NFL a report that, if accurate, should result in the termination of the employment of Cass, Newsome, and perhaps even Harbaugh.  Likewise, real questions should be raised about Steve Bisciotti’s fitness to own the team, if the report is accurate and if he had any knowledge of the coverup.  (Or perhaps even if he didn’t.)

And while some would say the report pulls the spotlight away from the NFL and puts it on the Ravens, the ESPN report makes the NFL’s complete failure to seek the video of the incident even more suspicious.  If the report is accurate, the Ravens and the NFL didn’t get the tape perhaps because they didn’t want to see it.

Which could make that bombshell report from the Associated Press even more plausible, and troubling.  Perhaps someone at the league office saw the tape, but that person knew the Commissioner didn’t want to see it — because that person knew the Commissioner wanted to find a way to give Rice the benefit of the doubt, and to be able to say he didn’t see the tape.

Regardless, Friday’s mediocre-at-best press conference performance coupled with the ESPN report means that Goodell remains in jeopardy of losing his job.   The information developed by the supposedly independent investigation and generated by the Ray Rice appeal process could cement that outcome, if the ESPN report is accurate.


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Ravens: ESPN story contains “numerous errors, inaccuracies”

Baltimore Ravens v Cincinnati Bengals Getty Images

The Ravens have responded to ESPN’s Friday report on the club’s decision-making after Ray Rice’s February arrest with a short statement claiming the piece contains “numerous” mistakes.

The team plans to talk in greater detail about the story next week, it said.

“The ‘Outside the Lines’ article contains numerous errors, inaccuracies, false assumptions and, perhaps, misunderstandings,” the club said Friday night. “The Ravens will address all of these next week in Baltimore after our trip to Cleveland for Sunday’s game against the Browns.”

While the club may not plan to further address the story until next week, it’s a certainty head coach John Harbaugh will be asked about it after Sunday’s game at Cleveland. Also, Kevin Byrne, the club’s senior V.P. of public and community relations, is slated to meet the press at 1 p.m. ET on Saturday in connection with the team’s Rice jersey exchange.

UPDATE 10:33 p.m. ET: “We stand by our reporting,” ESPN spokesperson Josh Krulewitz told PFT on Friday night.

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Report: Goodell soon expressed misgivings about Rice’s two-game ban

Roger Goodell AP

Among the many revelations in ESPN’s investigation of the decisions made by the NFL and Baltimore Ravens after Ray Rice’s arrest in February was that league commissioner Roger Goodell reportedly soon had second thoughts about handing down just a two-game suspension of Rice.

The ESPN report claims that “within days” of Rice’s initial ban on July 24, Goodell told someone close to him that “he wasn’t sure he had done the right thing,” wrote reporters Don Van Natta Jr. and Kevin Van Valkenburg, citing two unnamed sources. The report also said Goodell seemed to indicate he had been persuaded not to give Rice a harsher punishment — and that the commissioner “regretted” this, wrote Van Natta Jr. and Van Valkenburg.

Goodell would later change course on Rice, publicly saying in late August he erred in handing down the two-game suspension when unveiling a new domestic violence policy. And less than two weeks later, Rice was indefinitely suspended by the NFL.

But Rice’s longer suspension came only after video emerged of him hitting his now-wife in Atlantic City in February. The video, released by TMZ, was posted three days before the tailback was to sit out the last of those two games he was banned.

Only then, after the video went viral, did the league change course. By then, though, the outrage with the NFL and the Ravens had come to a boil. And the simmering really started when the league announced it was benching Rice for all of 120 minutes of regulation to begin the season.

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