Two days. It took two days for the most flimsy, half-hearted, most pathetically defensive cover-up in in recent sports history to dissolve.
Wednesday, the Associated Press reported a law enforcement agency sent video of Ray Rice’s battery of his wife to the NFL months ago.
When the video of Rice’s infamous elevator punch was leaked by TMZ Monday morning, the NFL immediately denied that their higher-ups had ever seen the video. This of course created the following questions:
Why did the NFL not try to investigate like they had when they relentlessly pursued the Saints bounty scandal?
How did TMZ get the video when the NFL was unable?
Were NFL reporters like Peter King lying when they claimed that NFL officials had seen the video in some insane conspiracy?
None of these questions had remotely reasonable answers if what the NFL said was true: that they were ignorant, willfully or not, of how to obtain the video.
The AP report is the final blow. The NFL had the video.
A law enforcement official gave the AP a 12-second voicemail confirming the video’s delivery to league offices.
This is in line with months of previous reporting, like when Peter King stated in no uncertain terms the league had that elevator footage.
It explains why Adam Schefter was, to put it mildly, livid with the league on Sportscenter after the video leaked. Like he had been lied to.
It explains why the league and the Ravens still can’t get their story straight on if the video was available and if they decided to pursue it.
From where we’re standing, here’s a reasonable estimate of what actually happened: NFL sees video, NFL hides video, NFL tries to create plausible deniability, NFL hopes to god the video doesn’t leak, NFL prepares to bury Rice if it does.
From where the NFL was standing, the best case scenario was to suspend Rice for a smaller-than-expected amount of games and create a reasonable doubt that Rice’s crime wasn’t as bad when you actually saw the video.
This is unforgivable. This is what gets people fired from their jobs (looking at you Goodell).
Rice was supposed to be a tipping point, a clear opportunity to establish that football was beginning to understand that the public would no longer support the crimes of athletes.
Instead, it punted. Every opportunity they got to be aggressive and show it wasserious, it punted. The Rice banishment was a garbage-time touchdown in a credibility game that was long over. The NFL had lost.
This whole fiasco is now just another reminder that the league is tragically unaware of how to accept women in their profession and fandom.
The NFL’s credibility is now shattered. Any further attempt to crack down on its players’ domestic violence will be seen as PR.
Any harsh punishment will be received as a mockery, or will at least be measured in “Ray Rice suspensions.”
With the NFL now bringing in former FBI director Robert Mueller as an independent investigator, a report entitled “You Idiots” is not outside the realm of possibility.
The only way to reestablish punitive credibility is to clean house and replace the faces of this debacle.
Roger Goodell needs to resign, because it’s one thing to over-focus on the Saints bounty scandal to transparently shield the league from concussion lawsuits or refuse to pay referees until the incompetence of their replacements forces you to.
To attempt to enact one of the shadiest sports conspiracies in recent history and bungle the whole thing along the way is an unforgivable mixture of unethical and incompetent.