From the days after the second Ray Rice video was released, some have argued that the question of whether the NFL saw that video before it was released overlooks the question of whether the NFL needed to see the second Ray Rice video.
Testifying before the Senate Commerce, Science, and Transportation Committee on Tuesday, NFL executive V.P. of football operations Troy Vincent admitted that the NFL didn’t need to see the second Ray Rice video.
The disclosure came in response to the first question posed by the Committee after opening statements from the eight witnesses attending the hearing. Vincent was asked why Commissioner Roger Goodell didn’t know about the second Rice video. After providing a response that didn’t directly answer the question and being refocused by the questioner, Vincent said that the first video that was released in the aftermath of the incident revealed conduct that was “heartless, gutless, and despicable.” Vincent then said, “I don’t think there was a need for a second video to impose proper discipline.”
And there’s another piece of the puzzle that former FBI director Robert Mueller eventually will be putting together. At a time when most believe Goodell’s job will be in jeopardy only if the owners believe he lied about seeing the tape, Vincent has admitted that Goodell didn’t need to see the tape.
Vincent is right. The league knew that Janay Palmer had been knocked out. The league knew or should have known what it looks like when someone gets knocked out. Once the rest of us saw in graphic, but accurate, terms what it looks like, the NFL used the video as cover for fixing its mistake by imposing a much longer suspension on Rice.
Then came the report that the NFL already had the video, and Goodell’s future became directly tied to the question of whether the NFL actually did have the video. Some would say that an admission that the NFL didn’t need to see the video is the same thing as the NFL already having the video.
If Mueller, in the exercise of his supposed independence, comes to that conclusion in his report, things could get very interesting.