Whenever they approach a gray area, the NFL likes to keep things as vague as possible.
So with the world waking up this morning to video of Ray Rice punching his wife in the face in an elevator, we still aren’t sure whether the league saw the video before their initial two-game punishment.
This video is sufficiently shocking that the league would almost certainly re-open its investigation if they didn’t see it before. But we don’t know whether they have or not.
In August, the league didn’t specify whether they had seen the then-rumored-to-exist video of what happened inside the elevator.
While it seems like the thing a thorough criminal investigation woud have reasonably overturned, the possibility exists that Roger Goodell didn’t see the one-punch knockout before slapping Rice on the wrist with a two-game suspension.
Likewise, when Goodell recognized his mistake and enacted a much tougher policy on domestic violence, the league was careful to say nothing about how it applied to Rice.
Wiggle room is a valuable thing to have when dealing with a potentially damaging situation, and the NFL has made sure to maintain some throughout this process.
But at some point, and soon, Goodell will have to answer whether or when he saw the video of the punch, and whether or when it might impact Rice.