A law enforcement official says he sent a video of Ray Rice punching his then-fiancee to an NFL executive three months ago, while Commissioner Roger Goodell and league officers have insisted they didn’t see the violent images until this week, according to a story Wednesday by The Associated Press.
According to AP, the person played a 12-second voicemail from an NFL office number on April 9 confirming the video arrived. A female voice expresses thanks and says: “You’re right. It’s terrible.”
The law enforcement official, speaking to the AP on condition of anonymity because of the ongoing investigation, says he had no further communication with any NFL employee and can’t confirm anyone watched the video. The person said they were unauthorized to release the video but shared it unsolicited, because he wanted the NFL to have it before deciding on Rice’s punishment.
The NFL has repeatedly said it asked for but could not obtain the video of Rice hitting Janay Palmer — now his wife — at an Atlantic City casino in February.
The league says it has no record of the video, and no one in the league office had seen it until the website TMZ released it Monday. When asked about the voicemail Wednesday, NFL officials repeated their assertion that no league official had seen the video before Monday.
AP is not publishing the name of either the law enforcement source or the NFL official who received the video from that source. Shortly after the report was published, the NFL released a statement saying the league will look into it.
The person said he sent a DVD copy of the security camera video to an NFL office and included his contact information.
Goodell initially suspended Rice for two games following the February incident, creating a firestorm of controversy over perceived leniency. The Ravens released Rice Monday and the NFL suspended him indefinitely after the website TMZ released the video.
Goodell told CBS Tuesday 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.
Carroll says, “NFL got it right”
Speaking to reporters at his weekly news conference less than two hours before the AP story broke, Seahawks coach Pete Carroll said the termination of Rice after the video went public was the right call.
“I think that the commissioner and all of his backers, they’ve got it right,” Carroll said. “It’s unfortunate that it took more time than people’s patience, but we understand why. He’s done a good job to this point, but it’s tough that everybody’s on him so hard about it. Seems like he used the information well once he got it.”
Carroll acknowledged that the episode has changed his view regarding player evaluations.
“It will never be the same,” Carroll said. “Unfortunately, I’ve got to admit, my awareness is different than it was, and I don’t think it’ll ever be the same as it was.
“I’m glad that I can say that now, because hopefully we can prevent or head off any kind of issue that could come up in the future. Unfortunately, we had to see an incident that elevated our awareness to really get it to the right place. It’s unfortunate we have to learn the hard way sometimes.”
Carroll had been asked about injured CB A.J. Jefferson, who signed with the Seahawks in August after a domestic incident last year, when he was with the Minnesota Vikings.
Jefferson was arrested in November on a felony count of domestic assault after he allegedly strangled his girlfriend during an argument. He was immediately cut by the Vikings and suspended for four games by Goodell. But the suspension was lifted for undisclosed reasons.
Jefferson finished the season on injured reserve with the Cleveland Browns. He pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor count of domestic assault for which he served a suspended sentence of three days in jail.
He signed with the Seahawks in May, but sprained an ankle and was waived off the roster with an injury settlement.
Carroll said he talked with Seahawks players about domestic violence Wednesday.
“Unfortunately after such a serious incident, generally our awareness will grow, and we’ll be better off because of it,” he said. “For the people that have been involved with that, our hearts go out to them and the depth of their pain. Hopefully we’ll just do better and we’ll be better for it.
“It’s an extremely serious situation. We made them aware that we will help them in any way if they have concerns about it. We will try to elevate their awareness. I think it’s another example of an enormous situation that people learn from and grow so much from.
“Hopefully, the process and visibility will bring an awareness throughout our society. We need to take care of one another better and we need to respond accordingly.”