When surveillance video surfaced of former Baltimore Ravens running back Ray Rice knocking out his then-fiance in an elevator, the NFL moved quickly to feign shock and convince us all that it was the first time anyone from the league’s offices saw the tape or fully understood what happened. But despite the fact that all signs since then have pointed to some type of cover-up, an investigation handled by NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell’s “inside man” Robert Mueller, has shockingly cleared Goodell and the league of any wrongdoing. *Insert eye roll here.*
According to Mueller’s newly released report:
• We uncovered no evidence that anyone at the league received or viewed an in-elevator video prior to September 8 or made a call acknowledging receipt of the video
• After a review of all information gathered from the League, as well as information made available to us by third parties, we found no evidence that the in-elevator video was sent to the League or, if sent, was actually received or viewed by the League.
• First, our interviews of Goodell, Pash, Miller, Birch, and Raucci did not uncover any evidence that these senior League officials had received the in-elevator video prior to September 8.
• In addition, we interviewed more than 200 League employees. Again, each denied having seen the in-elevator video or even hearing a rumor that 47 an in-elevator video of the Rice incident had been received by the League before it appeared on TMZ on September 8.
Mueller did acknowledge in his report that the league could have done more to track down the tape. Of course, what the investigation fails to answer is why the league needed to see the punch to begin with. Rice admitted to his team and league officials that he hit Janay Rice. In fact, the initial tape released before Rice’s first suspension showed him dragging her out of an elevator. Did they think he roofied her at some point?
And then there is the issue of Mueller being tapped to handle this investigation, given ties to the league. If the league really wanted this investigation to be perceived as both independent and transparent, why hire the guy who is a partner in a law firm heavily connected to the NFL? Not to mention the fact that the probe was overseen by NFL owners John Mara of the Giants and Art Rooney of the Steelers, two men who just happen to be Goodell’s strongest supporters.
The National Organization for Women was the first major group to call bullshit shortly after the report’s release. NOW President Terry O’Neill released a statement saying: “If one of Robert Mueller’s FBI agents had turned in a report as incomplete as the Ray Rice investigation, that agent would have been transferred to Peoria.”
*Chick Fights is an editorial column written by a Chicks in the Huddle contributor*