Highlights from interview with Ravens owner Steve Bisciotti, president Dick Cass and GM Ozzie Newsome

September 11, 2014|By Jeff Zrebiec, The Baltimore Sun

In their first interview since releasing running back Ray Rice, the Ravens’ top decision makers acknowledged that they failed in their handling of the situation and vowed to be more diligent in investigating legal matters involving their players going forward. 

Here are the highlights from Wednesday's interview with owner Steve Bisciotti, president Dick Cass and general manager Ozzie Newsome.

How tough has this situation been with how close you were to Ray Rice?

Newsome: “I have a relationship with all the players but I know at some juncture there’s going to be some separation. It came sooner than I thought. But the football aspect of it was one thing that separated it, but my relationship with Ray will probably carry on for a lot of years." 

How difficult was it to tell Rice that you were terminating his contract?

Newsome: “Five days ago, did I think that I would be calling Ray while he was on suspension to tell him I was going to terminate him? No. None of the calls, whether it’s a phone call or a guy sitting or standing across from me at a table is very easy. And I think that was probably the toughest to this point that I’ve been through.”

How did the meeting unfold when decided to cut him?

Cass: “It was a very quick meeting. We had an opportunity before the meeting to talk a little bit about it with each other. There had been some separate conversations before the meeting. But the meeting itself lasted, I would guess, no more than 20 to 30 minutes. It was a good discussion. Everyone voiced their opinion and everyone was unanimous.”

Why weren't the words in the police report where it said, "he struck her unconscious" enough to release him in your eyes?

Cass: “There was no discussion. When it’s a player misconduct, there’s a protocol that the league has followed for over 20 years now. And the protocol basically is the team involved generally collects information about the incident. But if it’s a criminal misconduct issue, there’s no discipline generally imposed until the criminal proceeding is finished. That’s the protocol that we followed in this case as well. We collected information as best as we could but we really were waiting until the criminal proceeding was over to decide what to do. There would have been no precedent that I’m aware of where you’d take an established player – a player who had been with you for six years, had been a model citizen, a terrific player, had built up enormous good will in this building and in this community – to terminate a player when he had been charged with simple assault.

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.

Detail 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.”

So nobody in this building has seen the video?

Bisciotti: "Until Monday."

Why not send somebody to Atlantic City to get it?

Cass: “Our security guys offered to the police to go to Atlantic City and watch it. They would not accept that." 

Did Rice's explanation to team officials match up with what you eventually saw on the video?

Newsome: "We had a meeting but also Ray and Janay and Roger had a separate meeting and a story was told in that meeting. So what was said during the meeting between the three could have been a lot different than what was said when the eight of us were in a room together."

But did it particularly match what Rice told you?

Newsome: "You know. Ray had given a story to John 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.”

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.”

Is there any scenario where Rice could be back with the team?

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