Ex-FBI director Robert Mueller will investigate the NFL’s pursuit and handling of the case against Ray Rice. The decision comes after a report Wednesday that a league executive received videotape evidence of Rice’s domestic violence incident five months before it became public.
USA Today reports that New York Giants owner John Mara and Pittsburgh Steelers owner Art Rooney will oversee the investigation with Mueller, and the final report will be made public. Commissioner Roger Goodell has pledged full cooperation of all league personnel and access to all records.
The announcement of an investigation comes hours after the Associated Press published a report citing an unnamed law enforcement official who reportedly sent a copy of the domestic violence incident to an NFL executive. The tape was leaked to the public by TMZ Monday, leading to Rice’s release from the Baltimore Ravens. He has been suspended by the league indefinitely.
According to the unnamed official, the NFL never followed up on the Ray Rice videotape and couldn’t confirm if anyone in the league watched the tape. The official also played the AP a 12-second voicemail confirming the video arrived at an NFL office. A female voice thanks the official for the tape and comments, “You’re right. It’s terrible.”
CBS Sports notes that the NFL denied anyone in its office had seen or possessed the video, which shows Ray Rice punching his then-fiance. The statement said:
“We have no knowledge of this. We are not aware of anyone in our office who possessed or saw the video before it was made public on Monday. We will look into it.”
The AP‘s report immediately put Goodell under fire, because the NFL commissioner asserted since Monday that no one in the league office saw the video before TMZ released it. According to the AP, that is not true.
The Ray Rice scandal drew the attention of Congress, which sent a letter to Goodell demanding “the highest level of transparency” in how the NFL investigated the situation. The National Organization for Women responded to the video by calling for Goodell’s resignation.
The NFL and the Ravens initially stood by Rice, despite video showing the player dragging his unconscious fiance out of an elevator. That support ended Monday when the second video came out. Goodell called the video “sickening” and said it didn’t match the story Rice told the league before his initial suspension.
Mueller hasn’t been given a timeline for the investigation. The last independent investigation in the NFL was run by attorney Ted Wells. He took almost three months to file a final report in the bullying case involving Richie Incognito and Jonathan Martin.
[Image: NBC News]