In response to Friday afternoon’s bombshell report from ESPN regarding the Ravens’ gross mishandling of the Ray Rice investigation, the Ravens said only that the report contains “numerous errors, inaccuracies, false assumptions and, perhaps, misunderstandings.”
But the Ravens didn’t mention a single error, inaccuracy, false assumption, or misunderstanding. And they still haven’t.
Speaking to the media in connection with the Ray Rice jersey exchange, in which more than 7,000 fans participated, Ravens spokesman Kevin Byrne said (via Rick Ritter of CBS Baltimore), “There are inaccuracies in the report. We’ve been transparent and will continue to be.”
Exactly when have the Ravens been transparent? Sure, plenty of folks started talking after the second Rice video was released. Before that, however, the Ravens seemed to be focused on privately and publicly propping up Rice, wrapping their arms around him even though, according to the ESPN report, the organization knew that he had swung his closed fist into his then-fiancée’s jaw, knocking her “the f–k out.”
“This is new territory for us,” Byrne said. “It’s an unusual time for the franchise. We’re learning as we go.”
They need to be learning — and they need to be sharing — exactly what they contend is wrong with the ESPN report. If there are “numerous errors, inaccuracies, false assumptions and, perhaps, misunderstandings,” it should be easy to identify and rebut them. After all, the topic has been a fairly hot one for the franchise in the last 12 days, and previously.
“Right now we’re focused on Cleveland and will address this next week,” Byrne said.
Sorry, but that’s not good enough. The story is too big and its implications too significant to justify hiding behind a looming game day. Besides, it’s not as if the players will be the ones crafting the response.
The deliberate delay creates the impression not of transparency but more damage control. Instead of standing up and telling the truth, it seems the Ravens have used the cover of an approaching contest to justify planning and plotting a plausible response to the report. One that will preserve the employment of as many people as possible. One that will keep the league office from dropping the hammer on anyone who may have misrepresented to the Commissioner the severity of the incident.
One that will keep relevant law-enforcement officials from commencing the process of exploring whether any state of federal laws were broken in connection with the team’s apparent effort to minimize Rice’s ultimate legal responsibility, to shorten his suspension, and to keep the public from realizing exactly what Rice had done.