The results are in, and the NFL dropped the ball in the Ray Rice investigation.
The New York Times is reporting that Robert S. Mueller III, the former FBI director who was selected by NFL commissioner Roger Goodell to report on the league’s handling of the Ray Rice case, released his findings on Thursday of last week. In his report, Mueller found that the NFL had enough information given to them to make an appropriate decision on the case, even without the videotaped incident showing Rice punching his then-fiance Janay in the face while in the elevator.
Mueller, however, lambasts the NFL for not aggressively pursuing any further information or facts while investigating. The biggest complaint is that the NFL did not pursue further information before reaching the decision to suspend Rice two games for his conduct.
Soon after, the Baltimore Ravens cut Rice from the team. Rice was then suspended indefinitely, when the video of his punching his fiance surfaced. That was quickly overturned when Rice took his case to arbitration, where an arbitrator found Rice’s punishment to be conflicting with the facts of the case.
This case, in concert with the cases against Adrian Peterson and Greg Hardy, both domestic abuse cases, caused the biggest backlash in Goodell’s eight-year tenure. Calls for changes in policy and Goodell’s resignation became vocal and prolific.
NBC Sports is reporting that, according to Mueller’s investigation, and contrary to what many people believe, Goodell had not seen the videotape of Ray Rice punching his then-fiance. That is contrary to an Associated Press report from a unknown police official, who stated that the NFL had the videotape since April.
“We concluded there was substantial information about the incident — even without the in-elevator video—indicating the need for a more thorough investigation,” Mueller’s report said. “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.”
Goodell issued a statement calling the case closed, and said he and the NFL would be committed to improve investigatory procedures in cases concerning domestic violence.
“We have all learned a great deal in the past months and expect to be judged by how we lead going forward on issues of domestic violence and sexual assault,” Goodell said.
Mueller stated he and his team of investigators went through “millions of documents, emails, text messages and electronic data logs,” and interviewed at least 200 NFL employees and contractors. Digital forensic experts searched the cell phone and computer records and logs of top NFL executives, including Goodell.
While the investigation found no evidence that the NFL had knowledge or possession of the punching video, it did find a chronic “deference to law enforcement” that hindered the initial NFL investigation. If the league had taken the initiative to look deeper into the case early on, “it may have uncovered additional information about the incident, possibly including the in-elevator video prior to its public release,” the report said.
[Image courtesy of ESPN]