After months of scandal, misinformation and finger-pointing the Ravens owner has finally addressed the Ray Rice case. On Monday, Sept. 22, Ravens owner Steve Bisciotti spoke at a press conference communicating the faults in the recent report by ESPN on Friday, Sept. 19.
ESPN reported they conducted many interviews of “team officials, current and former league officials, NFL Players Association representatives and associates, advisers and friends of Rice”, concerning the case and “found a pattern of misinformation and misdirection employed by the Ravens and the NFL since that February night.” Following the incidents of Feb. 15, the article accuses Ravens owner Steve Bisciotti, president Dick Cass and general manager Ozzie Newsome of pushing for a lighter punishment for Rice. While others, including Ravens coach John Harbaugh, said Rice should be released immediately.
The article continues by stating that when investigating the details from the February night, the NFL didn’t dig as they have done in the past. It was reported that details of the elevator assault was given to the team’s director of security, Darren Sanders, hours after the incident. When the footage was released by TMZ on Sept. 8, both the NFL and the Ravens put the blame on Rice stating that he was not honest about what had happened, and of course that they had not seen the footage. The article goes on to highlight exactly how everything went wrong in the months following the February occurrence, and that the case was all done in the best interest of Rice.
During Monday’s press conference Bisciotti said that they indeed handled this case wrong, and made it clear that the press conference was held to defend the organization. Bisciotti noted that he should have pressed for the elevator footage, but didn’t feel he needed to. If he had done so the team would have seen it and the information would have then been shown to the NFL. He included that if Rice would have been given a harsher punishment initially, Rice may have been able to be accepted again.
During this meeting Bisciotti stated that several aspects of the ESPN report were untrue. Bisciotti said that stemming from the false claims is Rice setting up a case for reinstatement through ESPN’s anonymous sources. The ESPN article lists many of the interviewees as anonymous. “I think that what’s obvious is that the majority of the (ESPN) sources are people that work for Ray,” Bisciotti said. “Almost everything in there is anonymous, but it’s clear from the subject matter that it’s Ray’s attorney, it’s Ray’s agent and it’s Ray’s friends. And they are building a case for reinstatement and the best way to build a case for reinstatement is to make everybody else look like they’re lying.”
The Ravens website details all of the aspects of the report that are not true. These include: Raven’s executives pushed for a lighter punishment for Rice, coach Harbaugh wanted to release Rice immediately, and Rice had stated that he hit his then fiance with an open hand among many other things. Team officials speak on each “untrue” claim made.
Ravens President, Dick Cass, addressed the claims the executives pushed for a leniency for Rice. He claimed the only effort they put in was a letter sent in on Rice’s behalf “largely devoted to describing Ray’s extensive efforts in the community.” The team’s letter was among 30 similar letters. ESPN also claims the initial two game suspension was a “favor” to Bisciotti from his good friend NFL Commissioner, Roger Goodell. Bisciotti comes back saying that they are not good friends and he did not request Rice only be suspended for two games.
The issue of coach Harbaugh wanted to release Rice is also claimed to be untrue. Harbaugh said, “I did not recommend cutting Ray Rice from the team after seeing the first videotape. I was very disturbed by that tape, and I told people that the facts should determine the consequences. When I saw the second videotape, I immediately felt that we needed to release Ray.”
Bisciotti said that everyone in his organization did their job correctly and no one will be fired. At the end of the Ravens explanation of the ESPN article, the organization said they would like to put this incident behind them. They are seeking to be transparent with the public and fans and hope that these lessons will be carried into the future.