NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell is under the most scrutiny of his tenure in the aftermath of the whole Ray Rice scandal and how the league handled it prior to the disturbing video release earlier this week.
Maintaining his stance that the NFL had not seen the video prior to its release on Monday, Goodell sent a memo to all 32 teams regarding the situation.
As you know, there has been a good deal of speculation about the investigatory process that preceded the decision to suspend Ray Rice for his involvement in an incident of domestic violence last February. I want to use this opportunity to address this matter and provide a full understanding of the process that was followed.
First, we did not see video of what took place inside the elevator until it was publicly released on Monday. When the new video evidence became available, we acted promptly and imposed an indefinite suspension on Mr. Rice.
Second, on multiple occasions, we asked the proper law enforcement authorities to share with us all relevant information, including any video of the incident. Those requests were made to different law enforcement entities, including the New Jersey State Police, the Atlantic City Police Department, the Atlantic County Police Department and the Atlantic County Solicitor’s
The requests were first made in February following the incident, and were again made following Mr. Rice’s entry into the pre-trial diversion program. None of the law enforcement entities we approached was permitted to provide any video or other investigatory material to us. As is customary in disciplinary cases, the suspension imposed on Mr. Rice in July was based on
the information available to us at that time.
This is the first public disclosure that the NFL did not ask law enforcement officials for any tape that may have had an impact on its investigation.
Our understanding of New Jersey law is that casino security is regulated by the Division of Gaming Enforcement in the State Attorney General’s office. Once a criminal investigation begins, law enforcement authorities do not share investigatory material (such as the videos here) with private parties such as the NFL.
In addition, the state’s Open Public Records Act excludes
material that is generated in the context of an active law enforcement proceeding. The law enforcement agencies did nothing wrong here; they simply followed their customary procedures. As the New Jersey Attorney General’s office said yesterday, “It would have been illegal for law enforcement to provide [the] Rice video to [the] NFL.”
This may very well address why the league did not receive the video from either law enforcement or the casino itself. While still a tad foolish to believe that the league did everything right here, there is somewhat of a solid explanation for its lack of action as it relates to obtaining video evidence.
Photo: USA Today