Former FBI director Robert Mueller III’s report on the NFL’s handling of the Ray Rice case says there was no evidence that the league had seen the notorious Atlantic City elevator video of Rice assaulting fiancee Janay Palmer before TMZ posted it.
The report, which was released Thursday afternoon and overseen by Giants owner John Mara and Steelers owner Art Rooney, reinforced Commissioner Roger Goodell’s statement that the NFL hadn’t seen the in-elevator video of the incident, but it did criticize the league for its handling and exploration of the charges.
Mara and Rooney released a joint statement after the findings were released:
“As owners, we are the first to agree that the NFL did not have a sufficient policy in place to deal with players or other personnel accused of domestic violence. …We were slow to react, and in the case of Ray Rice, the original punishment was insufficient. In addition, the steps taken by the NFL to investigate this matter were inadequate. Since then, a new policy concerning domestic violence and other rules for conduct violations have been put into place. We believe these new policies are tough and appropriate.”
Here’s what you need to know about his report:
1. The Report Claims Mueller Found No Evidence the League Had Seen the Video Before TMZ Published It
The report also says there was no evidence that a woman in the league audience had confirmed to a law enforcement source that she received the video in April — five months before TMZ published it.
“We found no evidence that anyone at the NFL had or saw the in-elevator video before it was publicly shown. We also found no evidence that a woman at the NFL acknowledged receipt of that video in a voicemail message on April 9, 2014.”
Rob Maaddi, a reporter from the Associated Press, disclosed he had a heard a voicemail from a female NFL employee confirming the video had been received by the league office.
2. Mueller Chided The NFL For Not Being Thorough in Its Investigation
In his report, Mueller did say the NFL could have done a more thorough job of investigating the charges.
“We concluded there was substantial information about the incident – even without the in-elevator video – indicating the need for a more thorough investigation. 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.”
Also from the report:
The League’s investigation was limited, but it possessed substantial information suggesting a serious event had occurred inside the elevator that the League should have further investigated. For example, by February 19, the League had seen the outside-the-elevator video, showing Rice dragging an unconscious Palmer out of the elevator. The next day, the League received a copy of the complaint-summons—written by police officers who had seen the inelevator video—that charged Rice with “striking [Palmer] with his hand, rendering her unconscious.” And by June 6, the League had a copy of the grand jury indictment, alleging that Rice “did attempt to cause significant bodily injury to [Palmer], and/or did purposely or knowingly cause significant bodily injury to [Palmer] and/or under circumstances manifesting extreme indifference to the value of human life, did recklessly cause significant bodily injury to [Palmer].” That information did not provide the graphic detail that the in-elevator video depicted, but it should have put the League on notice that a serious assault had occurred and that it should conduct a more substantial independent investigation. Our investigation identified a number of investigative steps that the League did not take to acquire additional information about what occurred inside the elevator.
Goodell initially suspended Rice for a mere two games after the incident, but reversed course and suspended him indefinitely amid the public outcry once TMZ published the video on September 8.
Rice won the appeal of his suspension and was reinstated, but has yet to be signed by a team.
3. The NFL Did Not Contact The Police or Prosecutor
While conducting its probe, the NFL never contacted the police officers who investigated the incident or the Atlantic City Prosecutor’s office.
The AC Police Department received the video from the hotel and had a detailed account of what happened inside the elevator from one of its officers. According to the report, ACPD did not make any of its employees available to Mueller for interviews.
The report also stated the NFL failed to contact the hotel to look at or receive a copy of the video from the elevator.
Rice or his lawyer were never asked for the tape, either.
…the League might well have received that information through more persistent and thorough communication with ACPD. …Similarly, in interviews conducted after the conclusion of Rice’s appeal, Rice and his attorney claimed that they would have turned over the in-elevator video if asked. Thus, had the League undertaken a more substantial investigation, it may have gathered available information about the incident, possibly including the in-elevator video prior to its public release. Contacts with the Atlantic County Prosecutor’s Office or the Revel, on the other hand, likely would not have produced results.
4. The Report Said The NFL Failed to Communicate With The Ravens
Mueller’s report said the NFL failed to follow up with the Baltimore Ravens after the league’s initial contact with the team just after the incident.
After the first contact, there was a lack of communication between the league and team. The NFL apparently failed to find out if the Ravens had any additional information which would have helped in investigating the situation.
From the report:
To be sure, it is uncertain that contacting these parties would have yielded useful information. The Ravens, however, did receive in late February a detailed description of the in-elevator video from a lieutenant at ACPD, the agency responsible for the criminal investigation of the Rice incident. The Ravens did not volunteer that information to the League. …and members of the Ravens indicated in our interviews that they would have shared the information they had learned with the League had the team been asked directly.
5. Mueller Made More Suggestions to Strengthen The League’s Conduct Policy
Within in the report, Mueller advised the NFL to create a special investigations team to handle domestic violence and sexual abuse cases.
The report also recommended the league adopt investigative guidelines for its investigations; expand the security department by adding supervisory resources; and provide annual training and a formal performance review process for investigators.
The NFL endorsed a new personal conduct policy last month during a league meeting in Dallas.
Mueller did recognize the league for the positive steps it has taken to improve the policy.
In the statement released by Mara and Rooney, the owners did say Goodell “is the right person to lead the league as we move forward.”
Read the full report here: