As we wait (and wait . . . and wait) for the Ravens to address the alleged “errors, inaccuracies, false assumptions and, perhaps, misunderstandings” in the ESPN report alleging that Ravens director of security Darren Sanders knew the contents of the notorious elevator video in February and Ravens president Dick Cass knew in early April, coach John Harbaugh has addressed the report that he lobbied for the team to cut Rice in February.
“Every single football decision we make, we work together,” Harbaugh told reporters after Sunday’s win at Cleveland, as Josh Alper has pointed out. “Just like every football decision. You get together, you hash it out. [G.M.] Ozzie [Newsome] uses the term scrimmaging. You scrimmage it out, everybody’s got their opinions. It’s not black and white.”
Asked by Peter King of TheMMQB.com whether Harbaugh wanted to cut Rice in February, Harbaugh didn’t provide an unequivocal no.
“That is such an unfair characterization,” Harbaugh said. “It is not fair to the organization. We said all along that the facts would determine the consequences, and that was my stance from the start of this.”
Reading those comments together in light of the ESPN report, it’s a fair characterization to say that Harbaugh at least raised the possibility of cutting Rice in February, and that Newsome’s “scrimmaging” process resulted in a consensus that the Ravens would keep Rice — but that ultimately “the facts would determine the consequences.”
The facts, once they finally came to light via TMZ, determined the ultimate consequence for Rice. If Harbaugh indeed raised during the “scrimmaging” process that the team should cut Rice, it’s reasonable to believe that Harbaugh’s agreement to keep Rice hinged on the facts showing that Rice didn’t punch his then-fiancée.
Once the facts showed he did, end of story.
So if, as the ESPN report contends, Sanders, Cass, and perhaps others in the organization knew the true contents of the elevator video before the elevator video came out, perhaps they concealed the truth not only to secure a short suspension from the league office, but also to keep Harbaugh from winning the internal scrimmage as to whether a player who had been paid $25 million between July 2012 and December 2013 should be dumped from the roster.
Either way, ESPN’s contention that the Ravens knew the contents of the video long before seeing it has not yet been rebutted by Sanders or Cass. The only person who has spoken is Harbaugh, whose remarks actually help demonstrate why a coverup happened, if a coverup in fact did occur.