Late For Work 9/11: Ravens Executives Answer Ray Rice Questions

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Ravens Executives Answer Ray Rice Questions

Top Ravens executives were interviewed for the first time since releasing running back Ray Rice.

Owner Steve Bisciotti, General Manager Ozzie Newsome and President Dick Cass all sat down with The Baltimore Sun's Jeff Zrebiec, and Bisciotti did a second interview with WBAL-TV's Jayne Miller, to answer questions about how they handled the situation since February.

All three were open with explanations behind their decisions because they feel they owe it to the public, but first and foremost wanted to reiterate that those explanations are not excuses and candidly said, "We all failed."

You can read/watch the full interviews from both news outlets, but below are some of the questions and answers:

Sun: What were your efforts to get the video?

Cass: "In the very beginning in February, we tried to obtain a copy of the video from the police department. We then tried to obtain a copy from the casino, they refused. We then went to the prosecutor, they refused. We also went to the directors of security with the Jets and Giants and asked if they could help and they said they couldn't. We also went to the NFL representatives for the Giants and Jets and asked them if they could help us and they were unable to help us. We also went to our NFL representative and asked if he could help us get a copy. That was all unsuccessful. At that point, Ray's lawyer had not seen the video."

Per Zrebiec, Bisciotti added that organization erred by not continuing* *to investigate once Rice was accepted into a diversionary program by the prosecutors and judge, which allowed him to avoid jail time and potentially remove the felony aggravated assault charge from his record.              

Bisciotti: "I regret very much — and we all do — giving up on the video. It was there, we knew it was there, we wanted to see it. And if I can say so, I'm sure the league wishes that they pushed harder. We said that we pushed as hard as we could and never got it, but we should have pushed harder. Whatever that level is, we probably shouldn't have given up. Roger should probably not have given him a suspension before he saw that tape. … That's where we dropped the ball. That's where I'm so angry, because it allowed us to accept what the league gave him."

WBAL: Did you consider trying to get one of the casino employees to give you the video?

Bisciotti: "Can you imagine if that came out that the Baltimore Ravens had sent somebody up there to pay somebody behind the scenes to release something that they didn't have the right to release as an employee of the casino and that came out?"

Sun: So nobody in this building had seen the video?

Bisciotti: "Until Monday."

Sun: What was your reaction to the video?

Bisciotti: "It was tough to watch the video that came out Monday. It was embarrassing for all of us to watch the first video that came out months ago. That was embarrassing, that was sad. Monday's video was disgusting and shocking to us."

Sun/WBAL: Did Ray Rice lie to you about what happened in the elevator?

Newsome: "Ray had given a story to John [Harbaugh] and I. And what we saw on the video was what Ray said. Ray didn't lie to me. He didn't lie to me."

Bisciotti: "So we're starting down to my regrets. I never spoke with Ray. I know that he spoke with our security. I know he spoke with Ozzie and John. I know he spoke with Dick Cass."

Sun/WBAL: Why did you need a second video if you already had the first, a police report and Ray's explanation?

Cass: "There's a big difference between reading a report that says he knocked her unconscious or being told that someone had slapped someone and that she had hit her head. That is one version of the facts. That's what we understood to be the case. When you see the video, it just looks very different than what we understood the facts to be."

Bisciotti: "The way it was described to us was that he had hit her with an open hand and that she had hit her head. We already knew that she had told the police that they had consumed an enormous amount of alcohol, like two bottles of hard liquor between four of them. … That's my fault because we love Ray. We have a tendency to hear what we want to hear and see what we want to see and so the misdemeanor, the explanation that he hit her with an open hand, the facts that she was aggressive. I was picturing her wailing on him and him smacking her, and maybe her head was this far from the wall, and with her inebriation, dropped. So why did I conclude all of that? Because I wanted to, because I loved him, because he had a stellar record and the cops had already seen video. So I assumed it wasn't a forceful blow that moved her head 3 feet into that wall. That's what I regret." 

WBAL: Would you have fired Rice in February if you had seen the video then?

Bisciotti: "If we had seen that video, we would've probably had to, we would've probably been told that we should wait until the court case came out. They had it. The police had it and gave them equal misdemeanors that night. Again, that's astounding to me. For me to tell you the truth, it makes me look like I'm pointing fingers at other people, but they gave them equal misdemeanors."

WBAL: "In other words, what you're saying is you weren't getting a signal from the courts in New Jersey that this was as bad as the video?

Bisciotti nodded and said:* "Or the prosecutor that gave him probation."*

Sun: What do you think the responsibility of an owner is to investigate a situation like this?

Bisciotti: "It's a lot different now, my perception about my responsibilities, my feelings about my responsibility. I realize that instead of being the greatest proponent of my player in situations like this, when the police and the prosecutors and the league are the disciplinarians, we have to do a better job, as Dick said, of investigating matters on our own and not waiting for other people who may not do it as well as we think we could do it. I can assure you that we will not wait for other people to give us their findings in anything, especially domestic assaults. I've come to see that they treat domestic assaults – and I say, they – I'm saying all of our country, our court system and everything. It doesn't seem to me that has elevated to something higher than bar fights. It seems to me that it's the same felonies reduced to misdemeanors and given probation. And as long as it's a first offense, everything is equal. That can't be. That can't be for the Ravens, that can't be for the NFL and it can't be for the general public. Battered women deserve more than that."

Sun: Is there any scenario where Rice could be back with the team?
Bisciotti: "I don't think so. I think if he gets permission to come back to the league, I think it's safe to assume that he's done here."

Sun: What do you think is Rice's football future?

Newsome:* "I think today and for the near future, Ray is going to be working on Ray. I don't think playing football right now is important to him based on our conversation. He's working on himself, Janay and their daughter and trying to make the best of that."*

Sun: Did this incident serve as a wake-up call for the organization?

Cass: "I think it serves as a wake-up call in how we handle player conduct issues in the future, particularly any issue with a player involving violence is something that we have to do a much better job of conducting a vigorous, independent investigation of what the facts are. We have relied on too much on others to do that and we need to do more ourselves. I think that was a critical mistake in what we did here. I blame myself. We did not go get the facts ourselves and critically evaluate what we had heard. We failed in that regard. It was a big failure. In that sense, we will conduct ourselves very differently the next time we have a player accused of a violent act, that's a criminal act. We will do more.

NFL Orders Independent Investigation

In response to an Associated Press report that a law enforcement official sent a video from inside the elevator to the league five months ago, the NFL announced it ordered an independent investigation of how it handled the Rice incident.  

The AP heard a 12-second voicemail from an NFL office number confirming the video had arrived. In the voicemail, a female voice expresses thanks and says, "You're right. It's terrible."

"We have no knowledge of this," the NFL said in a statement Wednesday. "We are not aware of anyone in our office who possessed or saw the video before it was made public on Monday. We will look into it."

Hours after the report was released, Commissioner Roger Goodell announced that former FBI director Robert S. Mueller III will conduct a probe into how the NFL handled evidence. The investigation will be overseen by NFL owners John Mara of the New York Giants and Art Rooney of the Pittsburgh Steelers.

Can Ravens Focus On Steelers After Challenging Week?Amidst all the controversy surrounding Rice this week, the Ravens have had to prepare for a nationally-televised primetime game against the Pittsburgh Steelers on a short week.

Given the emotional landscape in Baltimore, the assumption is that the Steelers couldn't draw a matchup against the Ravens at a better time because of all the distractions away from football.

But Steelers defensive end Cam Heyward says chaos in locker room is not always bad for a team.

"It brings guys closer, helps them rally around each other," Heyward told NFL Media's Aditi Kinkhabwala.

In the NFL Network video below, Heath Evans says that controversy can sometimes be more distracting for the opposing team because they get lots of questions and distractions too, while the Ravens may hunker down as a family working their way through the season.

Week 2: Steelers vs. Ravens Picks

Most national outlets don't have their picks turned in yet, so there are fewer predictions than usual for the tonight's AFC North showdown. But of those that have turned in picks, most believe Pittsburgh will be victorious at M&T Bank Stadium.

Baltimore Sun: 4 of 7 pick Steelers
Jeff Zrebiec (Steelers 23, Ravens 20): "Ten of the past 12 games between the rivals have been decided by three points or less, and I'd expect no different this time around. But the edge goes to the Steelers because Roethisberger is fully comfortable in Todd Haley's offense while Flacco is still learning Kubiak's."

Mike Preston (Ravens 17, Steelers 14): "The Ravens will show resolve. A season has many defining moments, and the first one will be Thursday night against the Steelers. Another loss in the division, especially at home, could be devastating."

Aaron Wilson (Ravens 24, Steelers 17): "The Ravens get back to basics, emphasizing a physical, run-centric approach that Kubiak favors after an erratic passing performance against the Bengals. And the defense creates more of a pass rush than usual against Roethlisberger."

Jon Meoli (Steelers 27, Ravens 23): "The failure for Gary Kubiak's offense to launch will continue into Week 2, and the Ravens won't be able to overcome the Steelers' run game in this one. Another comeback will fall just short."

Yahoo! Sports: 1 of 2 pick Steelers

CBSSports.com: 6 of 8 pick Steelers
Pete Prisco: Steelers 24, Ravens 17
"These are always physical games that feature a lot of good defense. But the two defenses didn't look good in their openers. Can they bounce back? At least the Steelers had the offense going in Week 1. They continue that here with the no-huddle. Ravens go to 0-2 at home".

SportingNews.com(Vinnie Iyer): Steelers 20, Ravens 17
"Fresh off facing the other two AFC North foes in a pair of doozies, the division's premier physical primetime rivalry revs up in a short week for the debut of Thursday Night Football on CBS. Neither team could close with their defenses in Week 1, but the Steelers held on and the Ravens didn't. Black and Gold was Fool's Gold against the run, but Baltimore didn't look great running on the Bengals' front. The Steelers will work to finish better, but the Ravens can't afford more slow play. It comes to Ben Roethlisberger and Joe Flacco and which offense will hum the way it wants with balance, and the visitors opened with plenty of backfield punch from Le'Veon Bell. Baltimore is trying to move on without what's his name, and it's bound to have a short-term effect. The Steelers steal the key early road game."

Quick Hits

  • Prosecutor explains the decision to allow Rice into pretrial intervention program, avoiding prosecution. [PressofAtlanticCity.com]
  • Former Ravens safety Ed Reed suggested that he could lead the team. Appearing on Showtime's "Inside the NFL" Tuesday, Reed was asked who he believed to be the soul of the Ravens. "I'm sitting right here," Reed said. He added that he thinks the players need to rally around themselves as a group and realize that this is their team. Who in the locker room could say those words? "I'm sitting right here with y'all," Reed said. [ESPN]

Joe Flacco lost 110 yards in the air through drops, highest in the league in Week 1 — Pro Football Focus (@PFF) September 10, 2014

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