On Tuesday, NFL executive V.P. of football operations Troy Vincent was asked on Capitol Hill to explain why Commissioner Roger Goodell didn’t try to see the elevator video showing Ray Rice knocking out Janay Palmer.
Said Vincent, candidly: “I don’t think there was a need for a second video to impose proper discipline.”
The NFL contends via email sent to PFT that Vincent’s words, which could be interpreted as an admission that the league didn’t need to see the second video because it knew what the second video showed, are consistent with Commissioner Roger Goodell’s explanation to Norah O’Donnell of CBS News from the day after the second video emerged.
As O’Donnell asked, “I mean, on the first tape she was lying unconscious on the ground, being dragged out by her feet. Did you really need to see a videotape of Ray Rice punching her in the face to make this decision?
“No,” Goodell said. “We certainly didn’t. And I will tell you that what we saw on the first videotape was troubling to us in and of itself. And that’s why we took the action we took. As I’ve said before, we didn’t feel that was sufficient, we didn’t get that right. But what we saw yesterday was extremely clear, it was extremely graphic, and it was sickening.”
But Goodell also said this regarding the first video: “That was the result that we saw. We did not know what led up to that. We did not know the details of that. We asked for that on several occasions. It was unacceptable in and of itself what we saw on the first tape. And that’s why we took action, albeit insufficient action. And we acknowledge that, we took responsibility for that — I did personally — and I take responsibility for that now. But what we saw yesterday was extremely clear and graphic and was absolutely necessary for us to take the action we did.”
That’s where the confusion lingers. As Vincent said Tuesday, the first video showed conduct that was “heartless, gutless, and despicable.” The league knew Rice had knocked out Janay Palmer. A man knocking a woman unconscious typically will be “extremely clear and graphic,” regardless of what it specifically looks like.
“Well, we certainly didn’t know what was on the tape,” Goodell told O’Donnell in September.
The NFL didn’t need to know, Vincent essentially said on Tuesday.
Ultimately, it’s a matter that former FBI director Robert Mueller will have to address in the report of his investigation. If he concludes that the NFL didn’t ask Rice for the second video because the NFL knew what it showed without seeing it, some owners possibly will regard that as the equivalent of a finding that the NFL actually had the video.