After interviewing more than 20 sources about a brutal domestic violence incident involving former star running back Ray Rice, ESPN’s “Outside the Lines” claims to have uncovered a “pattern of misinformation and misdirection” among the Baltimore Ravens organization and the NFL.
Sources, which reportedly include “team officials, current and former league officials, NFL Players Association representatives and associates, advisers and friends of Rice,” told ESPN that Ravens owner Steve Bisciotti, president Dick Cass, and GM Ozzie Newsome attempted to prevent damning elevator video showing Rice punching and knocking out his then-fiancee, Janay, from going public.
The Ravens organization was quick to pan the report on Friday, claiming that it's full of "errors" and "inaccuracies."
“The ESPN.com ‘Outside the Lines’ article contains numerous errors, inaccuracies, false assumptions and, perhaps, misunderstandings. The Ravens will address all of these next week in Baltimore after our trip to Cleveland for Sunday’s game against the Browns,” the team said in a statement.
Janay Rice, back left, looks on as her husband, Baltimore Ravens running back Ray Rice, speaks during an NFL football news conference, Friday, May 23, 2014, at the team's practice facility in Owings Mills, Md. Ray Rice spoke to the media for the first time since his arrest for assaulting his fiance, now his wife, at a casino in Atlantic City, N.J. (AP/Patrick Semansky)
In another shocking claim, sources alleged that Rice himself feels that the team’s owner attempted to bribe him with a front-office job if he kept quiet about the video.
More from the “Outside the Lines” report:
After the Feb. 15 incident in the casino elevator, 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 from this fall, to within their own building, where some were arguing immediately after the incident that Rice should be released.
The Ravens also consulted frequently with Rice's Philadelphia defense attorney, Michael J. Diamondstein, who in early April had obtained a copy of the inside-elevator video and told Cass: "It's f—-ing horrible." Cass did not request a copy of the video from Diamondstein but instead began urging Rice's legal team to get Rice accepted into a pretrial intervention program after being told some of the program's benefits. Among them: It would keep the inside-elevator video from becoming public.
Four sources also reportedly disputed the claim made by both Bisciotti and the NFL that team and league officials only knew the extent of the assault after they saw the video published by TMZ. The sources, however, claimed Rice told the entire truth during his meeting with Goodell.
Other sources recalled a pair of text messages Rice reportedly received from Bisciotti, the team’s owner, after he had been released from the Ravens:
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.
Rice, “after thinking about it more,” reportedly told friends that he felt the messages were an attempt to secure his cooperation by offering him a job down the road. “He felt incredibly insulted,” the report stated.
Rice and his wife have refused on comment on the matter.
Read ESPN's full report here.