NFL’s New Defense on Ray Rice Tape: They’re Incompetent

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SAN DIEGO, CA - NOVEMBER 25: Runningback Ray Rice #27 of the Baltimore Ravens warms up on the field before his team's game against the San Diego Chargers on November 25, 2012 at Qualcomm Stadium in San Diego, California. (Photo by Donald Miralle/Getty Images)
Photo: Donald Miralle/2012 Getty Images

The NFL offered yet another terrible defense for its handling of the Ray Rice domestic-violence incident, explaining on Monday night that its security staffers just don’t know how to do their jobs. Spokesman Brian McCarthy told ABC News that the league made four attempts to obtain the video of Rice assaulting fiancée Janay Palmer in February, but each one was unsuccessful. “We reached out to multiple law enforcement agencies and a court, but were unable to come up with the video,” McCarthy said. “With each of these efforts it was ‘give us everything.’”

Four days after the incident, Jim Buckley, a New Jersey–based NFL security representative, called the Atlantic City Police Department to obtain the incident report. He was told to file an open records request but was also told he could get the same information from news reports. He also called the Atlantic County Solicitor’s Office and was unable to reach the deputy solicitor, which doesn’t matter because the office has “no role in law enforcement.” During an unrelated meeting with New Jersey State Police later that month, NFL representatives asked about the Rice tape, but “they were unable to assist because they said they were not involved in the investigation,” McCarthy said.

The NFL made no further attempts to obtain evidence from the incident until June, when Buckley asked the court official who approved Rice’s entry into a probationary program for all the information she had. She faxed over a copy of the indictment, which Deadspin notes had already been made public.

If true, the NFL’s account of its weak efforts to investigate the incident would prove that Commissioner Roger Goodell wasn’t lying when he told CBS News, “On multiple occasions, we asked for [the tape]. And on multiple occasions we were told no.” However, since the police summons, which was published in news reports, says Rice assaulted Palmer by “striking her with his hand, rendering her unconscious,” it’s still unclear why the NFL was surprised by what that looked like on video.