NFL commissioner: No one saw violent Ray Rice video before leak (+video)
Goodell told CBS in an interview that 'no one in the NFL, to my knowledge' had seen a new video of what happened on the elevator until it was posted online.
ATLANTIC CITY, N.J. — As questions arose about the NFL's original investigation of Ray Rice, Commissioner Roger Goodell said Tuesday the league asked for, but was not given, a just-released video showing the ex-Ravens running back punching his then-fiancee on an elevator.
Goodell told CBS in an interview that "no one in the NFL, to my knowledge" had seen a new video of what happened on the elevator until it was posted online.
"We assumed that there was a video. We asked for video. But we were never granted that opportunity," Goodell said.
He also did not rule out the possibility of Rice's returning to play in the NFL.
Two videos, one released by TMZ Sports and another shown later to The Associated Press by a law enforcement official, show Rice punching Janay Palmer — who is now his wife — at an Atlantic City casino in February.
After the TMZ video made its way around the Internet, the Ravens cut Rice and the league barred him indefinitely.
In July, after another video released by TMZ showed Rice dragging Palmer out of the elevator but didn't show what happened inside, Goodell suspended the player for two games.
"I would tell you that what we saw in the first videotape was troubling to us, in and of itself," Goodell said Tuesday. "But what we saw yesterday was extremely clear, is extremly graphic, and it was sickening. And that's why we took the action we took yesterday."
Earlier Tuesday, Palmer posted a statement on her Instagram account, saying that barring Rice from playing football is "horrific" and that making the couple "relive a moment in our lives that we regret every day is a horrible thing."
Meanwhile, the fallout for Rice continued. Nike severed its business ties with him, and video game publisher Electronic Arts said it would scrub Rice's image from their latest Madden '15 release.
In the videos that surfaced Monday, Rice and Palmer are seen hitting each other before he knocks her off her feet and into a railing.
The higher-quality video shown to the AP shows Rice made no attempt to cover up what happened. After Palmer collapses, he drags her out of the elevator and is met by some hotel staff. Someone is heard saying, "She's drunk, right?" And then, "No cops." Rice didn't respond.
The video was shown to the AP on condition of anonymity because the official wasn't authorized to release it.
Coach John Harbaugh said he met with Ravens owner Steve Bisciotti, team president Dick Cass and general manager Ozzie Newsome after they saw the TMZ video, and they made the decision to let Rice go.
"It's something we saw for the first time today, all of us," Harbaugh said. "It changed things, of course. It made things a little bit different."
The action represented a complete reversal for the team, even though an Atlantic City police summons stated that Rice caused "bodily injury to Janay Palmer, specifically by striking her with his hand, rendering her unconscious."
The Ravens had used words like "respect" and "proud" in referring to Rice following his arrest.
Asked Monday night if Rice misled him, Harbaugh said he didn't want to get into "all that."
Rice said in a news conference this summer that his actions that night were "inexcusable." But the Ravens never took action against him until after the second video was released Monday.
Rice has not spoken publicly since the team cut him, and his lawyer, Michael Diamondstein, declined to comment when contacted by the AP.
Rice, 27, stood to make $4 million this year.
"Obviously, any video that depicts an act of violence in that video is disturbing to watch. For our union, we have an unshakable position against any violence, certainly domestic violence included," NFLPA executive director DeMaurice Smith said at the Seahawks' facility in Renton, Washington. "It will be a time for us now to catch up with everything else that has occurred today."
Rice had been charged with felony aggravated assault in the case, but in May he was accepted into a pretrial intervention program that allowed him to avoid jail time and could lead to the charge being purged from his record. The president of the New Jersey state Senate called on Tuesday for a review of that decision.
After Goodell drew criticism for not being tough enough on Rice, he wrote a letter to all 32 NFL owners in August saying he "didn't get it right" and setting up new penalties for domestic violence: six-game suspension for a first offense, at least a year for a second.
Rice's original two-game ban began Sunday, when the Ravens opened their season with a 23-16 loss to the Cincinnati Bengals. Under the initial punishment, he would have been allowed to return after Thursday night's game against Pittsburgh.
On July 31, Rice said: I let so many people down because of 30 seconds of my life that I know I can't take back."