NFL is reluctant to buy surveillance videos

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In the aftermath of the latest video that the NFL couldn’t get but that TMZ could, the question has emerged regarding whether the NFL should do what TMZ does when obtaining videos that contain images of player misconduct: Buy them.

But the NFL isn’t willing to do that. Per a source with knowledge of the league’s thinking, the NFL’s concerns relate in large part to the possibility of becoming involved in litigation between the entity that created the video and the person who sold it to the league. Media entities like TMZ can refuse to disclose sources; the NFL is concerned that it wouldn’t be able to do the same.

The NFL has its own media operation. But the NFL wouldn’t be buying the video for the purposes of profiting from its disclosure. It would be buying the video in order to assist in the league’s disciplinary process, which would make it much harder for the league to invoke the media’s ability in many jurisdictions to refuse to identify sources. Indeed, there’s a chance that the NFL would choose to keep the video secret, using it for disciplinary purposes but otherwise not making it public. Which would make it even harder to stay out of a legal fight by comparing its situation to TMZ’s.

So don’t look for the league to fight fire with fire. Which means that the league will constantly be at a disadvantage when it comes for securing video that otherwise isn’t publicly available.

This also means that the league needs to try harder. When the hotel that owns the video refuses to give it to anyone except law enforcement and when law enforcement takes the position that it’s not interested in a video that would reveal only a misdemeanor, the NFL needs to do something more than check the box and say, “We tried.” The NFL needs to pester the police department to make an exception to its policy, or to flat-out change it. Misdemeanor or felony, important to the local police department or not, the matter is of critical importance to the NFL, and the NFL needs to impress that importance upon everyone, not engaging in cursory efforts aimed more at securing cover than discovering truth.

That’s not to say the league didn’t do that here. Without the raw communications, however, there’s no way to know whether the NFL was perfunctory or persistent in its effort to get the video. If the NFL won’t try to beat TMZ by joining it, the efforts to get these videos require an unrelenting persistence.

23 responses to “NFL is reluctant to buy surveillance videos

  1. Seems they are reluctant to even ask for them, much less buy them. The shield is tarnished Rog !

  2. Buyout TMZ or put someone on their staff. Or here’s a thought…believe the victim and make the athlete spend the money to lawyer up and get the tape if he’s so innocent.

  3. Of course they don’t, then they’d have to face the truth.
    Who wants to do that?
    It’s 2018, we don’t need Truth or Facts anymore!

  4. Simple. Make a deal with TMZ. Make it known that you want to see these videos and will pay a retainer to always get a copy for disciplinary reasons only. TMZ still publishes the videos and makes their money. The nfl only has to disclose that TMZ is their source.

  5. Thanks for this article. It won’t appease those who want to throw Goodell or the league under the bus, but it’s a reality. These situations are often very tricky and to try to second-guess them from the outside without knowing what is really going on is a fools errand

  6. Seriously, is there anyone that believes the NFL really “tried” to obtain information on this? No interview with Hunt at all? Is there anyone that believes the corrupt commissioner’s office was thinking he was in the clear and that all had been swept under the rug?

  7. The NFL seems reluctant to even ask for the videos much less but them. You’ve tarnished the shield Rog !!

  8. NFL doesn’t want to get caught buying and hiding videos. That would be Roger’s death knell. Rather, they will do nothing and once per year when a less-than-flattering video comes out, they will dust off the perfunctory “we did everything we could to find the video” like they always do. Next question.

  9. So the NFL should try and force state and local police to divert resources to help the NFL avoid any sort of public embarrassment? Somebody is awfully full of themselves today

  10. “The NFL needs to pester the police department to make an exception to its policy, or to flat-out change it.” 


    Police unions across the country aren’t too fond of the National Football League.

  11. why pay for something that you will eventually view for free?

    maybe an ESPN insider can chime in?

  12. NFL is also reluctant to obtain readily available surveillance videos. Just look at Goodell’s evasive testimony in the Rice case about his confusion over whether his office requested the 2nd Rice tape.

  13. “The NFL needs to pester the police department to make an exception to its policy, or to flat-out change it. Misdemeanor or felony, important to the local police department or not, the matter is of critical importance to the NFL,…”

    The whole reason the police department would have this policy in the first place is because it’s resources are limited and it can’t use them chasing down every misdemeanor. The local police have more important people to serve and protect: the locals.

    The NFL has the resources to handle NFL problems.

  14. Silence Dogood – Remember while you’re up here defending Goodell don’t forget that neither he nor the NFL even interviewed Hunt. Doesn’t it make sense that if they really wanted to know what happened they would start by first asking the person involved. The reason they didn’t interview Hunt or make a real attempt at getting the video is because they didn’t want to, plain and simple

  15. Of course, the NFL could hire an “independent” consulting firm to conduct an investigation and produce a recommendation. This firm could purchase whatever evidence it needs, conduct whatever due diligence it needs, and keep the suits in the dark.

    If there were a firm that has done this to debunk the dangers of cigarettes or the existence of physics.

  16. Kareem Hunt should have had half a brain, realized that if a video existed of the incident it would eventually come to light and sought it out and provided it to the NFL early in the process. Then he would likely have been punished already and would likely still be playing in the league.

  17. Isn’t this what the NFL gets for disciplining players outside of the court system? Not making excuses for the judicial system (in this case the CLE police department for being blatantly negligent) but it still seems to me the NFL isn’t even remotely in a position to handle due process. If there is a civil suit against Hunt the surveillance tapes can be gotten during the discovery phase. Let the court process roll out and leverage punishment afterwards. But we can’t have that because of the failure of the judicial system to handle cases like these. So we’re left with the scrutinizing the NFL for putting their nose into something they have no control over.

  18. Not sure how it went down in Cleveland, but once the police or the prosecution had the video then it’s public record. Ohio does have a Sunshine Law. NFL have the right to request a copy. Especially if the prosecutor chose not to file charges and the case was closed as far as they are concerned. NFL isn’t trying hard enough. Most states have this law. Hey Mike, you’re an attorney, let’s here your take on this?

  19. can we all just agree that its not the Leagues responsibility to “Police” the players. It shouldn’t be their job to run down videos or any such thing. Let the police and the courts take care of it, and if and only when it actually comes to an actual arrest, should they discipline players.

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