John Harbaugh Wanted To Release Ray Rice

Since February, information about the Ray Rice domestic abuse case has come out, little by little. When the story first broke and the first video was released, Rice was suspended for two games, but the Ravens stood behind him as an organization.

However, it now seems like head coach John Harbaugh wanted the team to terminate Rice’s contract at that point, when the first reports came out. This is according to an investigative report by Don Van Natta Jr. and Kevin Van Valkenburg of ESPN. The Ravens have denied this report, according to Michael David Smith of Pro Football Talk.

As the second video surfaced on TMZ, Rice was then cut by the Ravens and suspended indefinitely by the NFL. In the ESPN report, the Ravens are purported to have had knowledge of the video inside the elevator within hours of the incident. Director of Security for the team, Darren Sanders spoke to an Atlantic City police officer over the phone shortly after it happened. The officer described the video in detail, and the Ravens knew the severity of the issue the same night.

Reports earlier this month told the story that the NFL had never reached out to the casino for the second video tape. The ESPN report states that the Ravens knew everything in February.

Here is an excerpt of the report, that is damning to the Ravens’ front office, Roger Goodell, and the NFL:

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.

For its part, the NFL — which in other player discipline cases has been able to obtain information that’s been sealed by court order — took an uncharacteristically passive approach when it came to gathering evidence, opening itself up to widespread criticism, allegations of inconsistent approaches to player discipline and questions about whether Goodell gave Rice — the corporate face of the Baltimore franchise — a light punishment as a favor to his good friend Bisciotti. Four sources said Ravens executives, including Bisciotti, Cass and Newsome, urged Goodell and other league executives to give Rice no more than a two-game suspension, and that’s what Goodell did on July 24.

NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell, who gained a reputation for coming down hard on player conduct early in his tenure, may have been lenient on Rice by failing to pursue the proper evidence. He has excused himself from the appeal of Rice’s case, and ordered an investigation of the NFL’s procedure of dealing with this situation.

Bisciotti also reportedly texted Rice after releasing him that the owner would have a front office job waiting for his All-Pro running back when his NFL career was over. At the same time, the Ravens’ front office was claiming that Rice lied about what happened inside the elevator.

Since the ESPN report came out, questions of those key members of the team’s front office status going forward. Cass and Sanders have already had their jobs called for by fans and sportswriters on Twitter, and Bisciotti’s ownership has been questioned as well.

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