Report: TMZ paid over $100,000 for the Ray Rice elevator video

AP

The NFL paid Roger Goodell $44 million in 2014.

TMZ reportedly paid 0.2 percent of that to put their hands on the video that Goodell could not.

According to an investigation into the celebrity gossip site by Nicholas Schmidle of the New Yorker, TMZ paid $100,000 for the video of then-Ravens running back Ray Rice knocking out his then-fiance Janay Palmer in an Atlantic City casino elevator and a previous video of the two of them.

The second video would get Rice released and bring scorn upon Goodell and his office, since they hadn’t been able to put their hands on the video themselves (among other reasons).

According to the story, a surveillance officer who was monitoring the video footage at the casino recorded the infamous incident on his cell phone, and then called TMZ. He left a message on their tip line.

Four days after the February 2014 incident, they posted a clip of Rice dragging Palmer’s body out of the elevator (from which one with curiosity might have surmised something happened in there). That one reportedly cost them $15,000.

The next one, which dropped on Sept. 9, showed Rice punching Palmer in the face, the video that launched a thousand ships. That one reportedly cost them nearly $90,000, though TMZ referred to the numbers as “overblown.”

Whatever it cost, it was worth it to TMZ in publicity, and is a fraction of what the league has spent since then on investigators and investigations, after one of their biggest public relations disasters in the league’s history.

Marcus Mariota touchdown run gives Titans lead

Getty Images

Marcus Mariota scored on a 23-yard touchdown run on zone-read keeper to give the Tennessee Titans a 13-9 lead over the Jacksonville Jaguars on Thursday night.

After a third Jason Myers field goal gave Jacksonville a 9-6 lead, the Titans quickly answered with the first touchdown drive of the game. A pair of defensive pass interference penalties aided the drive as Tennessee covered 81 yards on five plays, though 48 yards were via penalty.

The Titans had mounted a goal line stand to force the Jaguars field goal on the previous drive. Denard Robinson was stuffed at the goal line on third straight runs before Myers 20-yard field goal.

Browns owner says he’d like to see Ray Rice “get another shot”

AP

The Browns are lots of things. Boring is rarely one of them.

Just before the kickoff of their preseason opener Thursday night came an interesting quote about free agent running back Ray Rice from Browns owner Jimmy Haslam, via the Twitter account of ESPN reporter Bob Holtzman.

“I’d like to see him get another shot,” Haslam told Holtzman. Holtzman added that Haslam “tells me they want to see what team’s young RBs can do first.”

The team drafted the speedy Duke Johnson in the third round, but he’s done almost nothing in camp due to a hamstring injury. Isaiah Crowell and Terrance West are coming off rookie seasons that mixed promise with mediocre moments. Last weekend, Browns running backs coach Wilbert Montgomery told reporters he wanted to see someone hungry enough to win the job, which isn’t exactly a ringing endorsement.

Rice, presumably, is hungry after almost a year without a job. He’s said as much during a series of interviews designed to show he’s remorseful after he punched his wife and was cut by the Ravens when surveillance video of the incident turned up.

Earlier this week, Browns coach Mike Pettine told Sports Illustrated that the Browns have discussed Rice but “aren’t there yet.” Montgomery, who was Rice’s position coach for six years in Baltimore, is presumably at the center of those discussions. It’s a decision that Haslam would probably have to include Haslam’s permission, which makes his quote interesting.

Rice, 28, said in an ESPN interview earlier this month he considers himself a “rehabilitated man” and that he has tried to convey that to potentially interested teams.

“The conversations that I had with them is more to understand the magnitude of my situation,” Rice said. “I know that it’s a unique deal, so I just try to honestly live day-to-day and stay hopeful for that opportunity.”

Maybe the Browns will have further conversations. Maybe some team will beat them to it. But signing Rice wouldn’t just be a football decision, and that’s one reason his wait is likely to continue.

Report: Teams expressing “legitimate interest” in Ray Rice

Getty Images

Ray Rice’s NFL career as we knew it ended the moment TMZ got its hands on a videotape of him punching his wife in the face.

Now, they’re saying that career might not be over.

The website reports, citing multiple sources, that “there are a handful of teams that have expressed ‘legitimate interest‘ in the embattled running back.”

Frankly, it’s a little hard to believe there are multiple teams willing to take on the public relations risk for a running back who was closer to the end of his career than the beginning before he knocked his wife’s lights out.

Since many had hoped he’d get a chance but none were offering one, the idea that the former Ravens running back wouldn’t just jump on the first thing smoking seems dubious.

Of course, if it happens, it’s hard to imagine that it would before the draft, since any team could get a younger, cheaper, less complicated back at any time Thursday through Saturday (or Saturday night through Sunday or Monday).

But with so many willing to play the second chance game for talented players involved in domestic violence (cough, Jerry Jones and his daughter, cough), maybe a market will emerge.

If it does, you can bet the runners-up will deny they ever had any interest, however.

Mueller Report: Ravens “should have shared” information about elevator video with NFL

AP

Ravens president Dick Cass and club senior director of security Darren Sanders should have apprised NFL officials of what they had been told about the video of former tailback Ray Rice hitting his then-fiancée at an Atlantic City hotel, according to the report of the league’s independent findings of the Rice incident.

The report, which was overseen by former FBI director Robert S. Mueller III, claims Sanders had been briefed by an Atlantic City detective about surveillance footage of Rice striking Janay Palmer at the Revel Hotel. Sanders, the report said, took notes on the call, and shared his findings with Cass, General Manager Ozzie Newsome and head coach John Harbaugh. The report also said Rice’s attorney advised Cass the video was “terrible.”

However, the Mueller Report claims neither Cass nor Sanders told the league of those conversations, though both Ravens officials said they would have shared the information if asked.

“Sanders and Cass stated that if the League had asked them directly for information, they would have responded to the League’s request,” Mueller wrote in the 96-page report on the investigation of the NFL’s handling of the Rice incident.”That said, the Ravens possessed this information and well understood that the events inside the elevator were under League investigation. They should have shared with the League information critical to its investigation.”

The report also said the NFL needed to more aggressively seek information from the Ravens as the investigation progressed.

The Ravens released a short statement from Cass on the Mueller Report Thursday, with the club president saying the organization “[looks] forward to cooperating with the League on any new policies resulting from this report.”

The Ravens did not specifically address any of the report’s findings, though the organization has spoken in some length on its approach to the Rice investigation.

“More than anything, the report reminds us all of the gravity of the consequences of intimate partner abuse and the lessons we must all learn,” Cass said Thursday. “We have taken steps to educate ourselves, and others, about this important issue, and will continue to do so.”

Mueller Report: Investigators searched computers of Goodell, other league officials

Getty Images

In addition to interviews with NFL officials in its research of the league’s handling of the Ray Rice investigation, the team led by former FBI director Robert S. Mueller III searched the electronic devices of multiple league executives, including NFL commissioner Roger Goodell.

According to the Mueller Report, investigators made electronic duplications of the computers, mobile phones and tablets of Goodell and other league officials to see if anyone in the league office had possessed the video of Rice hitting his now-wife Janay Palmer before TMZ published it in September.

However, the investigators “found no evidence that any file having any of the characteristics of the in-elevator video had been downloaded, inserted into, or viewed on any devices of any of those individuals,” Mueller wrote in the 96-page report into the investigation’s findings, which were released Thursday.

Investigators took similar steps to study the electronic devices belonging to various executive assistants, including Goodell’s assistant.

The investigators, Mueller said, aimed to “examine not only the files, videos, documents, texts, and programs active on those devices, but also to recover all or parts of the files, documents, videos, texts, and programs that had been deleted before the examination—and also to determine whether efforts had been made to delete files.”

Investigators also investigated more than 400 other devices with access to the league’s network, as well as file-sharing networks accessed by league personnel, “to determine whether any computer contained evidence that a file having the characteristics of the in-elevator video had been downloaded, inserted, or viewed,” Mueller wrote.

Said Mueller: “Again, the answer was negative.”

Mueller Report outlines flaws in NFL’s investigation of Ray Rice case

AP

While the report filed by former FBI Robert Mueller found no evidence that anyone from the NFL viewed the video that TMZ was able to obtain from inside the elevator at the Revel Hotel and Casino that showed Ray Rice striking Janay Palmer and knocking her unconscious, Mueller did find that the league failed to adequately investigate the incident before suspending Rice for two games.

According to the report, the information from the police report that Rice struck Palmer and from the indictment that Rice “did attempt to cause significant bodily injury to [Palmer], and/or did purposely or knowingly cause significant bodily injury to [Palmer] and/or under circumstances manifesting extreme indifference to the value of human life” should have led to a more substantial investigation. The NFL did not contact police officers that investigated the incident, the Atlantic City Prosecutor’s Office or the Revel to obtain the video or other information nor did they contact Rice or his lawyer about a video that they had in their possession.

In general, the report takes the NFL to task for relying on outside investigations by law enforcement. It states that punishment under the Personal Conduct Policy should be determined by the actions and “not solely or necessarily on the disposition of a criminal case.” There were also six recommendations for future investigations, all of which underscore the questionable point that the league office that dropped the ball in the Rice case should be further empowered to investigate outside the judicial system.

The recommendations are: Expand the Security Department by adding supervisory resources; Establish a specialized investigative team for domestic violence and sexual assault cases; Adopt investigative guidelines for its investigations; Provide annual training and a formal performance review process for investigators; Enhance its policies to assure information sharing between clubs and the League; and Transcribe proceedings when a player and interested parties appear at a disciplinary proceeding.

The league has already announced changes to the Personal Conduct Policy that include a newly created position for a head of discipline to oversee league investigations outside of those done by law enforcement.

Mueller Report finds “no evidence” NFL received or saw Rice video before its release

AP

The independent report commissioned by the NFL in the wake of the Ray Rice scandal has found the league did not see or possess the infamous video of Rice striking his then-fiancee before its widespread release in September.

Moreover, the Mueller Report, which was overseen by former FBI director Robert S. Mueller III, claims its investigation “found no evidence” someone at the league office had confirmed receiving the video, as The Associated Press had reported.

Wrote Mueller: “(Despite) extensive investigation, we have found no evidence that anyone at the League received or viewed the in-elevator video prior to its public release. Likewise, we have found no evidence of a woman at the League acknowledging receipt of that video in a voicemail message left on April 9, 2014.”

Check back at PFT throughout for the rest of the day for more analysis of this story.

Ray Rice thanks judge, apologizes to his wife

The NFLPA has every reason to gloat, for what is clearly a big win for the union with the reinstatement of former Ravens running back Ray Rice.

Rice, on the other hand, needs to show a bit more contrition since this whole deal began with him punching his wife in the face.

In a statement sent out by the union, Rice again expressed remorse for assaulting his wife Janay.

“I would like to thank Judge Barbara Jones, the NFL Players Association, my attorneys, agents, advisors, family, friends and fans — but most importantly, my wife Janay,” Rice said. “I made an inexcusable mistake and accept full responsibility for my actions. I am thankful that there was a proper appeals process in place to address this issue.

“I will continue working hard to improve myself and be the best husband, father and friend, while giving back to my community and helping others to learn from my mistakes.”

Whether he plays another down of football, fixing that relationship will be his biggest priority.

Rice said previously that at some point he hoped to be able to become an advocate in the fight against violence toward women.

Today clearly puts him a step closer to that, but only time will tell if his actions match his words.

NFLPA hopes Rice decision helps “fix a broken process”

Getty Images

Let the gloating begin.

In the wake of Judge Barbara Jones reinstating former Ravens running back Ray Rice, the players union has responded to what it views as a big win.

“This decision is a victory for a disciplinary process that is fair and transparent,” the NFLPA said in a statement. “This union will always stand up and fight for the due process rights of our players. While we take no pleasure in seeing a decision that confirms what we have been saying about the Commissioner’s office acting arbitrarily, we hope that this will bring the NFL owners to the collective bargaining table to fix a broken process.

“It is clear that this decision should force the NFL to embrace neutral arbitration as part of a necessary due process in all cases. The players thank Judge Barbara Jones for her time and thoroughness in this matter.”

While the players had the opportunity to bargain collectively for changes to this system previously, it’s clear that it will be a big issue next time they negotiate, and they’ll use this as evidence that Goodell has too much power.

NBA nails it on domestic violence ruling while NFL struggles

AP

As the NFL stumbles through the dark trying to find a way to get out of several current legal messes, there’s a pretty good platform being established by the NBA, if the NFL cares to look and learn.

The NFL has tripped over its own feet regarding the cases of Ray Rice, Adrian Peterson, and Greg Hardy, leading to suggestions that they’re making it up as they go.

Meanwhile, the NBA has issued a quick, clear, thorough, and reasonable ruling on the matter of one of their players charged with domestic violence.

NBA Commissioner Adam Silver suspended Charlotte Hornets forward Jeff Taylor 24 games stemming from his arrest on Sept. 25 on charges from a fight with a woman in a Michigan hotel.

The Hornets had already suspended Taylor with pay during the investigation (sounds familiar), and the league is giving him credit for time served (sounds unfamiliar). Taylor will miss another 13 games, and be fined an amount equivalent to 24 game checks.

But it isn’t just the suspension that draws a clear line between one league’s handling of a mess and another’s.

The statement from Silver is a thorough piece of literature, documenting exactly what happened, exactly who knew about it, exactly how the league proceeded. It includes evidence and expertise from actual women, which seems like a good idea, rather than just having the victim testify in front of her abuser’s bosses and superiors.

It contains the usual condemnation of vile acts, as well:

“The NBA is committed to vigilance with respect to domestic violence,” it said in closing. “We will continue to work closely with the Players Association to provide education, awareness training, and appropriate resources to NBA players and their families. We recognize our responsibility to do all that we can to prevent this destructive and unacceptable conduct from happening in the future.”

In short, it’s a solid piece of work, generated in an expeditious manner, which seems to have fairly dealt with a contentious topic.

It probably wouldn’t seem so novel, if the NFL hadn’t failed to meet those same criteria, so spectacularly.

NFL owners get first look at new domestic violence presentation

AP

NFL owners had more on their plates than rubber-stamping new owners for the Bills and counting their new money when they met this week.

They also watched a video presentation on domestic violence.

According to the Associated Press, the video featured former NFL defensive tackle Joe Ehrmann, who asked viewers to imagine seeing a loved one abused, and then asking for action.

Think about the role you have to raise up a generation of men that are going to have the clarity, have the moral courage to call out other men,” Ehrmann says in the video.

The video is part of a 40-minute presentation put together by the NFL and its new outside advisers, to educate players about domestic violence and child abuse.

“It was very thorough, it was good,” Steelers president Art Rooney said.

“They were very engaged,” Deana Garner, the league’s director of player engagement and education said. “They recognized the importance of this initial education program and that it will set a standard.”

Considering these were the first meetings since the Ray Rice/Greg Hardy/Adrian Peterson/Jonathan Dwyer/Ray McDonald issues arose, increased attention to the topic was expected.

Hopefully, the message spreads, as the presentation will be seen by some teams by the end of the month and all of them before the end of the season.

Jason Garrett: Any Cowboys charged with domestic violence won’t play

AP

The Panthers and Vikings are shielding star players awaiting trial on the commissioner’s exempt list. The Ravens cut Ray Rice after video of him punching out his wife became public. The 49ers, on the other hand, are leaving Ray McDonald on the field while he’s investigated for domestic violence.

But the Cowboys have made it clear to their players what will happen to them.

According to Brandon George of the Dallas Morning News, coach Jason Garrett said he told his players they won’t be allowed to play in games upon charges, regardless any due process.

“Part of what our jobs are as coaches is to create the right environment for our players to function both on and off the field,” Garrett said. “So we need to be clear about where we are. We need to be clear that we have a structure in place to help anybody who has any off-the-field issues.

“Me as a coach, position coaches, player programs, departments, we have a lot of resources here to help guys. So that was the first message, if you’re dealing with anything off the field and we can help with, we’re here for you. Having said that, there are standards that we have about all off-the-field behavior and certainly domestic violence applies to that. We’re just very clear with how we’re going to handle things.”

He may get an immediate chance to put that theory in play, with the accusations of sexual assault against defensive back C.J. Spillman.

Of course, Spillman doesn’t benefit from being central to the team’s fortunes, so it might be easier to make an example of him.

 

Packers CEO says hope was Mueller investigation done soon

AP

The NFL appointed former FBI director Robert Mueller to lend some credibility and provide a thorough investigation into the handling of the Ray Rice case.

They apparently wanted a quick one, too.

During a discussion at Marquette Law School yesterday, Packers president and CEO Mark Murphy said the outcome of the investigation could help the league begin to heal some of the damage sustained by Commissioner Roger Goodell over the last few months.

“We’ll see,” Murphy said, via Bob Wolfley of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. “I think Roger has done some good things, particularly on the domestic violence front. . . . To me a key, key, key is going to be the investigation . . . . To see what that shows. We have an owners’ meeting coming up next week in New York. The hope was the investigation would be completed by then. Whether or not it [will be] I don’t know.”

Considering Mueller was appointed on Sept. 10, that’s a quick turnaround for an investigation that needs to be especially thorough.

And Murphy made his own case for the damage done, saying the aftermath of the Rice situation is the biggest crisis the league has faced since he played in the 1970s.

“I do think the credibility of the league has been challenged,” Murphy said. “I think we have taken a real hit in terms of credibility, respect. I don’t think it is fatal. But people have lost a little respect for the league. . . .

“The league has been so successful . . . I think when you stumble a little bit, people are eager to, are quick to criticize. Quite honestly, I have great respect for Roger. I think he has done a lot of really good things for the league. But when your compensation is $44 million, some people look at that and say they are out of touch with the rest of society. And then when you do err, when you do make a mistake, I think it is very easy for people to really turn on you.”

That’s happened, as the NFL may be slow to realize. And a rushed investigation might only add to the discontent, especially if it comes back saying the league did nothing wrong.

NBA Hornets park player immediately after DV arrest

AP

The NBA is not immune to domestic violence.

But at least they have a blueprint to work from, and have taken more decisive steps than the stumbles and make-it-up-as-you-go-along plan of the NFL in recent weeks.

Charlotte Hornets forward Jeffery Taylor was arrested on a domestic violence charge in Michigan this week, and according to Rick Bonnell of the Charlotte Observer, the Hornets announced the next day that he will not be allowed to practice or play while the league investigates. They begin training camp this week.

“As an organization, we understand and appreciate the seriousness of this matter, and will assist the NBA and law enforcement in any way we can until this comes to an acceptable resolution,” their statement said. “We have spoken with Jeffery and his representatives and they fully understand our position.”

The Hornets weren’t the only one talking, as the league and union responded as well.

The NBA said simply: “We support the Charlotte Hornets’ decision to separate Jeffery Taylor from the team during the investigation.”

NBAPA executive director Michele Roberts had a bit more to say.

“Jeffrey and his lawyers have determined that it is in Jeffrey’s best interest to focus on resolving this matter as expeditiously as possible before returning to the team. We accept and support that decision,” Roberts said. “However, our expectation is that no disciplinary action should or would be taken by the team or the league going forward, prior to objective deliberation and full consideration of the facts in this matter.”

The Hornets intend to pay Taylor during the investigation, a process similar to the league’s dusting off the commissioner’s exempt list. But Taylor’s also only makiung about $900,000 this year, or about 1.19 times what Panthers defensive end Greg Hardy made to watch last week’s game.

Not much is known about the incident at the moment, but the NBA has the rapid-response team out in force, compared to the way the Ravens and Panthers and 49ers and the league have operated.