Independent investigator Robert Mueller’s report on the Ray Rice case found no evidence that the NFL saw the in-elevator video before it was released of the former Baltimore Ravens running back hitting his now-wife but suggested that the league could have done more to determine what happened.
NFL commissioner Roger Goodell contended that the league had not seen video of Rice punching Janay Rice, who is now his wife, in an Atlantic City elevator last winter.
“We found no evidence that anyone at the NFL had or saw the in-elevator video before it was publicly shown. We also found no evidence that a woman at the NFL acknowledged receipt of that video in a voicemail message on April 9, 2014,” the report said.
“We concluded there was substantial information about the incident — even without the in-elevator video — indicating the need for a more thorough investigation. The NFL should have done more with the information it had, and should have taken additional steps to obtain all available information about the February 15 incident.”
New York Giants president John Mara and Pittsburgh Steelers president Art Rooney II issued a joint statement Thursday:
“On behalf of the owners of the thirty-two National Football League teams, we would like to thank Director Mueller and his staff for the work they have put into this investigation. Mr. Mueller’s report is detailed, extensive and thorough. His investigators reviewed millions of documents, emails and text messages. Investigators searched the computers and phones of commissioner Goodell, senior NFL executives, people in the mailroom, and others who might have information about the in-elevator video.
“After interviewing more than two hundred people, including every woman who worked at the NFL at the time the alleged call was made acknowledging receipt of the in-elevator video, and after an exhaustive forensic search of all electronic records, the investigators found no evidence that anyone in the league received or viewed the in-elevator video prior to its release. The investigators also found no evidence of a woman at the League acknowledging receipt of the video in a voicemail message.
“The investigators also identified a “weakness” — as they call it — in the league’s longstanding practice of deferring to the criminal justice system when matters like this arise.
“Mr. Mueller concludes that the League should have conducted a more substantial independent investigation of this matter and he has made six recommendations. This morning, we spoke to commissioner Goodell about these recommendations. We want to review them and understand them in greater detail. We look forward to moving forward on this.
“The report also states that the Associated Press declined to cooperate with the investigation. As owners, we are the first to agree that the NFL did not have a sufficient policy in place to deal with players or other personnel accused of domestic violence. As leaders of this sport, it is our responsibility to recognize the pain domestic violence causes to families in our league and in our society.
“We were slow to react, and in the case of Ray Rice, the original punishment was insufficient. In addition, the steps taken by the NFL to investigate this matter were inadequate. Since then, a new policy concerning domestic violence and other rules for conduct violations have been put into place. We believe these new policies are tough and appropriate.
“This matter has tarnished the reputation of the NFL due to our failure to hand out proper punishments. It has been a wake-up call to all involved and we expect the changes that have been made will lead to improvements in how any similar issues are handled in the future.
“It is clear to us that commissioner Goodell was forthright in the statements he made to the owners about this matter, and we have every confidence that Roger Goodell is the right person to lead the league as we move forward.”