As calls increased for the NFL to adequately address its recent rash of off-field violence, ESPN’s “Outside the Lines” reported Friday that both The NFL and the Baltimore Ravens had known knew much more about the Ray Rice’s domestic violence sooner than they’ve revealed publicly.
The report stated that the Ravens’ director of security, Darren Sanders, learned in detail what had occurred between Rice and then-fiancée Janay Palmer in the Revel Hotel Casino elevator from an Atlantic City, N.J., police officer just hours after the incident.
Rice’s attorney, Michael J. Diamondstein, allegedly obtained a copy of the inside-the-elevator video in April, and according to ESPN, Ravens president Dick Cass did not request to view it. Instead, the Ravens focused on making sure the video never became public, ESPN reported.
Ravens executives pressured NFL commissioner Roger Goodell to give Rice no more than a two-game suspension, sources told ESPN. And the execs pushed for prosecutors to allow Rice into the state’s pretrial intervention program — which results in charges being dropped if completed successfully.
ESPN also reported that when Rice met with Goodell in June, Rice told the commissioner that he had struck and knocked out Palmer. Goodell has since said Rice was “ambiguous” about what happened inside the elevator.
ESPN also reported that Ravens coach John Harbaugh wanted the team to cut Rice in February when the initial video first surfaced showing the running back dragging an unconscious Palmer out of the elevator. But owner Steve Bisciotti, Cass and general manager Ozzie Newsome resisted.
The Ravens rebutted the ESPN report, saying it contained several errors. They denied that Harbaugh had sought to have Rice removed from the roster.
“John Harbaugh did not want to release Ray Rice until he saw the second video on September 8 for the first time. The video changed everything for all of us,” the team said in a news release.
Rice was cut by the Ravens on Sept. 8, hours after the video from inside the elevator was posted. His two-game ban was turned into an indefinite suspension the same day, although Rice received another message from Bisciotti within hours, according to ESPN:
Hey Ray, just want to let you know, we loved you as a player, it was great having you here. Hopefully all these things are going to die down. I wish the best for you and Janay.
When you’re done with football, I’d like you to know you have a job waiting for you with the Ravens helping young guys getting acclimated to the league.
▪ Procter & Gamble joined the list of sponsors distancing themselves from the NFL, pulling its Crest toothpaste brand out of a campaign in conjunction with the league’s breast cancer awareness month. It is a major blow to the league’s biggest effort on behalf of female fans, when players wear pink shoes, arm bands or other equipment during games in October.
“Crest believes Breast Cancer Awareness is a critically important program to support women and their health, and, as planned, is making a $100,000 donation to the American Cancer Society for breast cancer awareness and will participate in media and retailer activities to help drive attention to the cause,” the company said in a statement. “The brand has decided to cancel on-field activation with NFL teams.”
▪ A White House official weighed in Friday in a briefing with reporters, saying the league must adopt a zero tolerance stance on violence against women.
“I think everyone would agree that the most recent revelations of abuse by the NFL players is really deeply troubling,” a senior administration official said. “And the NFL has an obligation not only to their fans, but to the American people, to properly discipline anyone involved in domestic violence or child abuse, and more broadly gain control of the situation.”
▪ Hennepin County, Minn., filed a court petition Friday seeking protection for Adrian Peterson’s 4-year-old son after he was allegedly abused by the Vikings running back in May.
The petition asked a judge to approve a safety plan for the child, including that Peterson not have any unsupervised or unauthorized contact with the child, and that he cannot use any “corporal punishment and/or physical discipline.” A Texas grand jury indicted Peterson on Sept. 12 for felony injury to a child. His first scheduled court appearance in that case is Oct. 8.
▪ Thousands of fans have traded in their Ray Rice jerseys for those of other Baltimore Ravens at the team’s stadium store. The team set up the two-day program after releasing Rice last week. He has been suspended indefinitely by the NFL for domestic violence. An estimated 5,000 fans are expected to show up before the event ends today.
| Star news services