The NFL could have learned many lessons from the handling of the bounty case. Ultimately, the NFL learned the hard way that, sometimes, a third party should be hired to conduct internal investigations.
As the Ray Rice situation continues to careen off the rails, overshadowing an otherwise successful first week of the 2014 regular season, the NFL needs to retain an independent, third-party investigator to find out exactly what happened, and what didn’t happen, in connection with the NFL’s efforts to collect all relevant evidence regarding the February incident involving Rice and his then-fiancée, now wife, Janay.
The outside investigation needs to begin with the Ravens and to continue with the league office. The NFL needs to find out exactly what the Ravens knew, when they knew it, what they believed, what they assumed, whether they saw the tape, whether they didn’t see the tape, and all other facts and circumstances regarding the manner in which the Ravens collected all facts and circumstances relating to the Rice case.
Then, the outside investigation needs to turn over every relevant stone at 345 Park Avenue, finding out what the league knew, when the league knew it, what the league did in order to know things, what the league didn’t do in order to know things, and everything else that would help the league office, the owners, and the public understand how such a seemingly straightforward situation became so badly bungled.
Unlikely many, I believe that the team and the league didn’t see the tape before Monday. Like many, I’m befuddled by the team’s and the league’s failure to get the tape. At a time when it feels like the NFL is circling the wagons and/or individual employees of the team and/or the league are looking for cover, the only way to restore public respect in and support of the all-important shield is to set aside agendas and self-interests and get to the truth.
At this point, the only way to do that is to retain someone with no stake in the outcome to find out precisely how the team and the league got to this point.