The Baltimore Ravens have responded to allegations by ESPN’s Outside the Lines that the team led a campaign of misinformation in the months following the now infamous Ray Rice elevator incident in which he was arrested for domestic violence.
You already know the story, so there is no reason to get into it here. Needless to say, both the Ravens and the NFL have drawn widespread criticism of their handling of the Rice situation. The latest coming from this damning ESPN report that paints a picture of corruption all the way to the top of the Ravens organization.
And here are some key points of Baltimore’s response to the ESPN allegations.
From the article: (the reporters) found a pattern of misinformation and misdirection employed by the Ravens and the NFL since that February night.
Steve Bisciotti (Ravens Owner): “As I stated in our letter to you on September 9, we did not do all we should have done, and no amount of explanation can remedy that. But there has been no misdirection or misinformation by the Ravens. We have stated what we knew and what we thought throughout – from the original report of the incident, to the release of the first videotape, to the release of the second videotape, which revealed a much harsher reality.
As we said in our response to ESPN’s questions on Friday, it was our understanding based on Ray’s account that in the course of a physical altercation between the two of them he slapped Janay with an open hand, and that she hit her head against the elevator rail or wall as she fell to the ground.”
From the article: …asked by the Sun whether the video matched what Rice had told them months earlier, Newsome conceded that it had. “You know, Ray had given a story to John [Harbaugh] and I,” Newsome said. “And what we saw on the video was what Ray said. Ray didn’t lie to me. He didn’t lie to me.”
Ozzie Newsome, (Ravens GM): “When I met with Ray to discuss the incident, I asked him one question: “Did you hit her?” He responded: “Yes”. Ray and I didn’t discuss details beyond that, because in my mind if he hit her, no matter the circumstances or explanation, he needed to own the situation. I immediately focused on Ray taking responsibility and making amends. I later said Ray didn’t lie to me because he told me he hit her, and that is what the video later showed—although the video was much more violent than what I had pictured.”
From the article: “Ravens executives — in particular owner Steve Bisciotti, president Dick Cass and general manager Ozzie Newsome — began extensive public and private campaigns pushing for leniency for Rice on several fronts: from the judicial system in Atlantic County, where Rice faced assault charges, to commissioner Goodell, who ultimately would decide the number of games Rice would be suspended…”
Dick Cass: “That statement is not true. In February, Darren Sanders made contact with the police and the prosecutor in an effort to obtain a copy of the video. Apart from Darren’s efforts, no one from the Ravens ever spoke or communicated with a prosecutor, a judge or anyone else employed by the judicial system in New Jersey regarding Ray Rice, with one exception. At the request of Ray’s defense lawyer, Ozzie, John and I sent a letter addressed to the Clerk’s office in support of Ray’s application for pretrial intervention. The letter was largely devoted to describing Ray’s extensive efforts in the community. According to the article, our letter was one of 30 such letters.”
From the article: (After the Ravens released a letter to their season ticket-holders and sponsors explaining the steps they had taken…) Minutes later, Rice’s phone buzzed. He could scarcely believe what he was looking at– back-to-back text messages from Bisciotti. Rice read them aloud so everyone in the room could hear them:
Hey Ray, just want to let you know, we loved you as a player, it was great having you here. Hopefully all these things are going to die down. I wish the best for you and Janay.
When you’re done with football, I’d like you to know you have a job waiting for you with the Ravens helping young guys getting acclimated to the league.
Steve Bisciotti: “I did have an exchange of text messages with Ray, which he initiated. I felt awful about what had happened. I believed he was, at heart, a good person, that he was capable of redemption, and I wanted to tell him I would be supportive of him. Here are the texts, not as told to someone and then misquoted in the article, but verbatim”:
Monday September 8, 7:44 pm
Ray: I understand the decision but I am thankful for what you have done for me and my family. Me and my wife will continue to work on us and being better but I just wanted to say thank you for giving me a chance
Steve: I’m sorry we had to do this. I still love you and believe that you will be a great husband and father If you ever need to talk just call
Tuesday September 9, 10:27 pm
Steve: I just spent two hours talking to Ozzie. It was all about you. We love you and we will always figure out a way to keep you in our lives. When you are done with football I will hire you to help me raise Great young men. I still love you!!!
Ray: I know it’s a rough time for all of us I love all of you and that will never change for life!
Steve: I will help you make it a great life indeed. I give you my WORD
Ray: That means the world to me and my family we greatly appreciate you and thank you.
Whether you believe the Ravens response here, one thing is clear…this team is now in full-scale disaster relief mode when it comes to the PR department.
The suggestions in ESPN’s report are beyond anything we have seen in the modern history of professional sports. And if proven true, will lead to the downfall of pretty much every higher-up in the Ravens organization.
They needed to respond directly to the allegations, a response that was as in-depth as it was specific to pretty much every allegation made.
Baltimore is holding a press conference this afternoon to further address the allegations.
Photo: NY Times