The Ravens have issued a lengthy press release, in which various team officials, including owner Steve Bisciotti, respond to ESPN’s investigative report into the team’s handling of the Ray Rice situation. The release includes 15 excerpts from the ESPN story, accompanied by responses from the Ravens explaining their side of the story. You can read the full statement at their website, but here are a few of the notable points:
- Based on Rice’s initial explanation of the incident to the Ravens, the team was under the impression that the running back slapped his then-fiancée with an open hand, rather than punching her. It wasn’t until the club saw the TMZ video that officials realized how violent the incident was.
- Ravens director of security says the description of the elevator video he received from Atlantic City police suggested that “Janay appeared to initiate the altercation, but they both spit at and struck each other, resulting in Janay falling and hitting her head against the wall railing.”
- Head coach John Harbaugh said he didn’t recommend releasing Rice back in February, as ESPN’s report suggests. “I was very disturbed by that [first] tape, and I told people that the facts should determine the consequences,” Harbaugh said. “When I saw the second videotape, I immediately felt that we needed to release Ray.”
- Bisciotti, team president Dick Cass, and GM Ozzie Newsome all indicate they didn’t ask commissioner Roger Goodell to levy no more than a two-game suspension on Rice.
- Cass admitted that the team didn’t continue to investigate the incident throughout the summer: “We decided that we would await the outcome of the criminal case and the NFL disciplinary hearing and to leave the fact-finding to others. We should not have done that.”
- Bisciotti, addressing the idea that he was offering Rice a job with the team later in his career if he kept quiet about the Ravens’ handling of the incident: “I cannot believe that Ray ever thought I was suggesting he keep quiet, when he got the texts or later on. They were not an insult. To the contrary, I think he knew these were messages from the heart, as were his responses to me.”
On the heels of issuing this statement, Bisciotti also addressed reporters on the issue. In the view of the Baltimore owner, the sources for ESPN’s Outside the Lines report were predominantly connected to Rice — either his friends or people who work for or with him (Twitter link). Biscioitti added that he’s “very confident” that no one currently with the Ravens will lose their jobs over this incident (Twitter link).