By now, anyone who wants to see the video of Ravens running back Ray Rice dragging his mostly-unconscious then-fiancée (now wife) from an elevator at an Atlantic City casino has seen it. Possibly because that video was improperly leaked to the media, far tighter clamps have been placed on the video of the punch (or whatever it was) from Rice that knocked her out.
A video definitely exists, it was assumed NFL has seen it. After all, Rice’s lawyer strongly hinted that he has seen it, and Rice’s lawyer would be entitled to have a copy of that and any other evidence that the prosecution intended to introduce at trial as part of the discovery process.
In turn, Rice’s ultimate employer, the NFL, would be entitled to demand to see a copy of it from Rice himself, both to assess the precise nature of the behavior and to evaluate the apparent claim that Janay Palmer Rice in some way provoked Rice. (Not that provocation would ever excuse an attack.) If Mrs. Rice, whose presence at Ray’s personal-conduct policy hearing was not requested by the league but arranged by the NFLPA, contends that she had some sort of responsibility for getting knocked out, it becomes reasonable for the league to request an opportunity to see the visual evidence.
The league had no comment on whether it has seen the tape, continuing its position of refraining from speaking about what was and what wasn’t considered in fashioning Rice’s two-game suspension. It’s our understanding, however, that the NFL did not obtain the video of the incident.
“When we’re going through the process of evaluating the issue and whether there will be discipline, you look at all of the facts that you have available,” Commissioner Roger Goodell told reporters on Friday. “Law enforcement normally has more — on a normal basis — has more information, facts, than we have. We’ll get as much as we possibly can.”
Given the ease with which the NFL could have gotten the video — by simply telling Rice that he must direct his lawyer to produce it to the league office — the league could have gotten the video, if it really wanted to get the video. Either the NFL didn’t think of making that request (which is highly unlikely), or the NFL deliberately chose not to.
Maybe the league decided that there was nothing to see. After all, Rice admitted to the behavior, and the prosecutors allowed him to enter a diversionary program based in part on the contents of the video. Still, when Goodell says that the league will “get as much as we possibly can,” the universe of possibilities in this case absolutely includes the video.
If the league truly hasn’t seen it, the league will now have to wonder whether someone eventually will leak it to the media. Which could result in even more criticism of the discipline that eventually was imposed on Rice.