The Baltimore Ravens released Ray Rice on Monday afternoon, hours after TMZ published a shocking video of Rice delivering a knockout punch to then-fiancee Janay Palmer in an Atlantic City elevator. (Watch the video above.) Shortly after the Ravens cut Rice, the NFL announced the league was suspending him indefinitely, making it entirely possible the former Pro Bowler will never play again.
TMZ released the video Monday morning, adding to the public outcry against Rice and the NFL, which issued a shockingly lenient two-game suspension to Rice in July. The league has since revised its policy on domestic violence cases, but not before being the recipient of an avalanche of criticism.
Here’s what you need to know:
1.The NFL Claims to Have Not Seen the Video When Investigating the Incident
The NFL said in a statement Monday that commissioner Roger Goodell, who admitted to mishandling Rice’s punishment, had not seen the video while the league was investigating the incident.
The claim was immediately met by skepticism about the league’s claim.
Sorry. I think the NFL is lying its ass off saying they didn't have access to the elevator video. Trust me, NFL has access to EVERYTHING !
— John Dennis (@JohnDennisWEEI) September 8, 2014
When the league announced its indefinite suspension of Rice, it said it was doing so because of “new video evidence.”
Roger Goodell has announced that based on new video evidence that became available today he has indefinitely suspended Ray Rice.
— Greg Aiello (@gregaiello) September 8, 2014
Several reports have poked holes in the league’s assertion that it hand’t seen the video. Sports Illustrated’s Peter King, who runs the website TheMMQB.com, reported in July that the league had seen the video. King walked back the report on Monday, saying he was told by a trusted source that the league had to have seen the video.
But as CBS Sports’ Gregg Doyel notes in a scathing column, King’s report wasn’t the only indication that the video was widely available before Monday.
Another well connected NFL reporter, ESPN’s Chris Mortensen, talked about the video weeks ago and described what happened with accuracy, including the way Janay’s head ricocheted off the handrail on her way to unconsciousness on the elevator floor. On Monday morning, Hall of Fame receiver Cris Carter (now an ESPN analyst) tweeted that he’d seen the knockout video “long” before Monday.
That’s three different people who traffic in Goodell’s circles, all of them indicating that the video was widely available — yet we’re supposed to believe that it wasn’t available to Goodell?
Here’s the initial video that TMZ posted in February.
2. There’s Even More Public Outrage Against the League
— Will McAvoy (@WillMcAvoyACN) September 8, 2014
.@nflcommish your punishment for beating a woman is less than for smoking weed. Get your head out of your fucking ass.
— Seth Rogen (@Sethrogen) September 8, 2014
Everyone from fans to sportswriters to Seth Rogen has been blasting the league all day on Twitter for not having the courage to take a harsher stance against Rice.
ESPN’s Bill Simmons was among those calling on Baltimore to cut Rice, who was one of the best running backs in the league just two years ago but is coming off the worst year of his career.
Ravens have to waive Rice today or they are cowards. New video is appalling. I'd like to see someone in the NFL do the right thing for once.
— Bill Simmons (@BillSimmons) September 8, 2014
Goodell's ability to keep screwing up signature decisions is unparalleled. I don't trust him to organize a fast-food order at this point.
— Bill Simmons (@BillSimmons) September 8, 2014
3. Ravens Coach John Harbaugh Said He Has ‘Nothing But Hope & Good Will’ for Rice & His Wife
Ravens coach John Harbaugh declined repeatedly Monday night to discuss any details of the decision-making process that led to the team cutting Rice. He also wouldn’t get into what the Ravens thought happened in the elevator before seeing the video, though the team has indicated it thought the assault was somehow less severe than what Monday’s video revealed despite initial video footage showing Rice dragging an unconscious Janay out of the elevator.
Harbaugh, the lone Ravens official to address the media, repeatedly answered variations of “I’m not gonna get into that” when pressed on what team officials knew about the February 15 incident.
Harbaugh said he’ll be “praying for” Ray and Janay Rice and has nothing but “hope and good will” for the couple.
“It’s something we saw for the first time today, all of us, and it changed things of course,” Harbaugh said. “It made things a little bit different.”
Asked why the Ravens hadn’t seen the video before Monday, the coach responded: “I have no answer for that.”
4. The Ravens Tweeted on May 23 That Janay Rice ‘Deeply Regrets Her Role’ in the Incident
In addition to the harsh words many fans have had for the league, there’s been a barrage of criticism directed at the Ravens, who tweeted on May 23 that Janay Rice “deeply regrets her role in the incident.” The team deleted the tweet amid massive public outrage on Monday.
The notion that Janay was ever even remotely responsible for an incident in which she was knocked out cold and dragged out of the elevator has been ripped to shreds by commentators for months.
ESPN even suspended talk show host Stephen A. Smith when Smith said on the air that women should be sure not to provoke men in domestic violence incidents.
The Ravens also celebrated Rice on their website’s homepage last month:
— Andrew Abramson (@AbramsonPBP) September 8, 2014
In July 2014, Ravens Owner Steve Bisciotti wrote on the team’s website:
Don’t we all have days or moments or periods in our life we regret? Ray showed great character for the six years I’ve known him. He has shown remorse after a bad incident. It was out of character. I don’t think now is the time to abandon him. You say we are a Ravens’ family. I’ve come to believe that.
5. Ray & Janay Rice Both Apologized at a Press Conference in May
In a press conference and via twitter, Rice apologized to the league, his team, his fans kids and wife. Watch the video above to see his apology.
First off, I would like to apologize everyone who was affected.”
He went on to make one of the awkwardest statements under this type of situation.
With a terrible choice of words, Rice said:
I won’t call myself a failure. Failure is not getting knocked down. It’s not getting up.”
The apology was coupled with the aforementioned tweet containing Janay’s apology.
did the Ravens really send out a press release in which Janay Rice apologizes for pounding Ray Rice’s fists with her face?
— CSTB (@cstbtweet) July 24, 2014