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 Keith 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.