Former FBI Director Robert Mueller, appointed by the NFL as a special investigator to look into the Ray Rice affair, reports that he discovered nothing to substantiate charges that the league viewed video of Ray Rice knocking out his fiancée prior to meting out punishment.
Mueller’s 96-page report announces finding “no evidence that anyone at the League received or viewed the in-elevator video prior to its public release. Likewise, we have found no evidence of a woman at the League acknowledging receipt of that video in a voicemail message left on April 9, 2014.”
Security footage showing the running back brutally slugging the woman he would later marry led to the Baltimore Ravens releasing the running back and the NFL issuing a new indefinite suspension to the former All Pro. Roger Goodell justified the new punishment as stemming from the video contradicting Rice’s previous account rather than from public outrage to seeing what the player had already described to the commissioner.
Mueller interviewed Roger Goodell and more than fifty league employees in gathering evidence. The former FBI director’s team also interviewed every female whose electronic badge indicated presence in the NFL’s offices on April 9, the date that an Associated Press reporter claims a woman confirmed NFL receipt on a voice mail of a DVD showing the incident. All 188 women denied receiving the video or making the call.
Despite exonerating the league on these two major points of contention, Mueller nevertheless criticizes the NFL’s handling of the debacle.
“We conclude that there was substantial information about the incident that should have put the League on notice of a need to undertake a more thorough investigation to obtain available evidence of precisely what occurred inside the elevator,” the report points out. “Had the League done so, it may have uncovered additional information about the incident, possibly including the in-elevator video prior to its public release.”
A federal judge reinstated Ray Rice after ruling that the player “did not mislead the Commissioner” about the incident and deeming the NFL’s double-jeopardy punishment “arbitrary.” Rice, a Super Bowl champion and three-time Pro Bowler, remains a free agent as his former team takes on the New England Patriots in the playoffs this weekend.