Although we learned yesterday that NFL commissioner Roger Goodell has been told to testify in ex-Ravens running back Ray Rice‘s appeal hearing, league officials haven’t been forced to cooperate in the NFLPA’s separate investigation, and seemingly have no plans to do so. Richard Craig Smith, the former federal prosecutor leading the union’s inquiry, tells Rob Maiddi of the Associated Press that the league has not provided him with any documents or witnesses. The Ravens have also failed to assist the NFLPA probe, per Smith.
“I am interested in the facts, and if we get cooperation from all the parties that were involved, we will have an understanding of what happened,” said Smith. “We cannot accept public statements that call for transparency, candor and openness and then not allow the investigators to do their jobs. If the NFL is genuinely concerned about fixing the issues that led to an admitted mistake, then they should be honest and forthright about what they knew and when they knew it. We want both our team and [former FBI director Robert] Mueller’s team each to be able to conduct a thorough review of all the relevant facts.”
The union announced exactly one month ago that it would be undertaking an investigation that would “run parallel” to Rice’s appeal hearing, which is expected to take place in mid-November. The NFLPA probe was expected to delve into the specifics of the initial Rice incident, and examine the machinations of both the NFL and the Ravens that led to Rice’s release and indefinite suspension. The league itself has tasked Mueller with performing a third investigation into the matter.
Neither of the three inquiries are bound by law or carry legal penalties for uncooperative actions, so just as Goodell can disregard the “order” to testify in Rice’s appeal hearing, the NFL won’t be forced to provide any help to the union investigation. I’d ultimately Goodell to testify in the hearing; he’s under enough pressure already that he won’t want it to appear as though he’s hiding anything. But because the league won’t be compelled to share any information with the league, it’s hard to imagine them doing so at their own discretion.