UPDATE (Tuesday, 1:45 a.m. ET): TMZ co-executive producer Charles Latibeaudiere told "FOX Sports Live" on Monday night that despite NFL assertions that "no one in our office has seen it until [Monday]," sources working at Revel Casino at the time Ray Rice struck his future wife in an elevator told TMZ that "people from the NFL" went to the casino shortly after the incident and saw the video TMZ released on Monday.
Latibeaudiere acknowledged that NFL commissioner Roger Goodell was not among those who saw the video at the casino, but that "employees of the NFL were at the casino to see the video."
The NFL world was rocked on Monday when TMZ released a video showing now-former Baltimore Ravens running back Ray Rice striking his then-fiancée in a casino hotel elevator back in February. Now, TMZ founder and executive producer Harvey Levin is teasing another twist to the story to come Tuesday.
"When you wake up (Tuesday) and go to our website, you will see what the NFL didn’t do," Levin told television station FOX5 in Washington D.C. on Monday. "I have gotten conflicting stories on this, and we have some people saying (the league) saw this, but I now believe they actually turned a blind eye to it, and it’s a shameful story.
"The NFL knew that this surveillance video existed. They knew that this casino had surveillance video. I know they knew that, and we will explain later why we know they knew that, but they did — and they didn’t do anything to look at this video, I believe. . . . It almost feels like [the NFL] didn’t want to know.
"The only reason all of this has happened today is that the NFL was backed into a corner because we put this video up."
Some have interpreted these comments to mean Levin intends to publish a story claiming the NFL actually saw the video ahead of time and chose to ignore it, though his quotes in the TV interview do not go quite that far.
TMZ first broke the story in February, when it released security-camera footage showing Rice dragging an unconscious Janay Palmer out of an elevator at the Revel Casino in Atlantic City. In July, Rice was suspended by the NFL for the first two games of the NFL season. The punishment drew wide criticism for being too lenient on Rice, and commissioner Roger Goodell responded in August by saying he "didn’t get it right" in his punishment of Rice and implementing a stricter domestic abuse policy.
But early Monday morning, TMZ released the video showing Rice strike Palmer — who is now married to Rice — in the elevator, knocking her out. A few hours later, the Ravens terminated the contract of the 27-year-old Rice, and the league soon followed by suspending Rice indefinitely based on the new video evidence.
The NFL has maintained it attempted to get access to the video from inside the elevator but was not allowed to view it. FOX Sports NFL Insider Mike Garafolo reached out to the NFL for comment regarding Levin’s remarks and Greg Aiello, the league’s senior vice president of communications, responded with this: