Ravens executives address Ray Rice investigation in exclusive interview

Owner Steve Bisciotti, GM Ozzie Newsome and president Dick Cass address mistakes in investigation

  • Ravens team executives from the left, president Dick Cass, general manager Ozzie Newsome and owner Steve Bisciotti sit down with The Baltimore Sun Wednesday at the Ravens' complex.
Ravens team executives from the left, president Dick Cass,… (Amy Davis, Baltimore Sun )
September 10, 2014|By Jeff Zrebiec, The Baltimore Sun

The Ravens’ top decision makers acknowledged Wednesday that the organization failed in its handling of the Ray Rice investigation and now needs to rebuild trust with its fans.

In their first interview since Monday’s decision to terminate Rice’s contract on the same day a video surfaced of him striking his then-fiancee, Ravens owner Steve Bisciotti, team president Dick Cass and general manager Ozzie Newsome told The Baltimore Sun that the team will be more diligent in investigating legal matters involving their players going forward.

“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 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,” Bisciotti said. “I can assure you that we will not wait for other people to give us their findings in anything, especially domestic assaults.”

Bisciotti added, “We all failed.”

“The buck stops with me,” he said. “I can’t second-guess anybody that helps me run this business. I think that’s unfair. We kind of heard what we wanted to hear and imagined what we wanted to imagine because we loved Ray.”

Bisciotti’s comments came about an hour before a report surfaced that the National Football League had received the video of Rice punching Janay Rice, who is now his wife, in an elevator of an Atlantic City, N.J., casino before NFL commissioner Roger Goodell handed down his widely criticized two-game suspension of Rice in July. Rice, 27, has since been suspended indefinitely, putting his NFL career in jeopardy.

The Associated Press reported that a law enforcement source had sent a copy of the tape to the NFL three months ago. League spokesman Greg Aiello said he had no knowledge of that.

Ravens officials reiterated Wednesday that no one in their facility had seen the tape and that they had been turned away in efforts to obtain a copy of it. Cass said the team asked whether it could send a security official to the Atlantic City Police Department to review the tape, but that request was denied.

“In the very beginning in February, we tried to obtain a copy of the video from the Police Department,” Cass said. “We then tried to obtain a copy from [Revel] casino, [and] they refused. We then went to the prosecutor, [and] 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 security 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.”

Bisciotti said that where the organization erred was not continuing the investigation once Rice, who was facing a felony aggravated assault charge, was accepted into a diversionary program that allowed him to avoid jail time and potentially lead to the charge being removed from his record.

“I regret very much — and we all do — giving up on the video. It was there, we knew it was there, we want 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,” Bisciotti said. “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.”

Said 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 too much on theirs to do that, and we need to do more ourselves. I think that was a critical mistake in what we did here.”

Bisciotti said he first viewed the video Monday morning, when it was released by TMZ Sports, and immediately drove to the team facility to meet with Cass, Newsome, coach John Harbaugh and Kevin Byrne, the team’s senior vice president of public relations. The meeting lasted 20 to 30 minutes and the decision was unanimous to release Rice, the three-time Pro Bowl running back who, before the incident, had been one of the team’s most popular and productive players.

Bisciotti described the video as “disgusting and shocking.”

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