The NFL never asked Revel Casino for the elevator security tape that showed Ray Rice knocking out his future wife, TMZ reported Tuesday, citing sources.
The casino would have given a copy of the tape to the NFL, sources said, as it gave copies to the police and Rice’s lawyer. But the league didn’t ask for it.
So when Commissioner Roger Goodell handed Rice a two-game suspension, it was without seeing the video, TMZ reports, and based on the statement released by Rice and his then-fiancee, Janay Palmer, that both of them were involved in the physical altercation.
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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 and Greg Aiello, the league’s senior vice president of communications, responded with this:
"Security for Atlantic City casinos is handled by the New Jersey State Police. Any videos related to an ongoing criminal investigation are held in the custody of the state police. As we said earlier today: We requested from law enforcement any and all information about the incident, including the video from inside the elevator. That video was not made available to us and no one in our office has seen it until today."
But TMZ co-executive producer Charles Latibeaudiere told "FOX Sports Live" on Monday night that despite the NFL’s assertions, sources working at Revel Casino at the time of the incident 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 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." However, the league never requested a copy of the tape.
The sports world was rocked on Monday when TMZ released the video showing the now-former Baltimore Ravens running back striking Palmer in the casino hotel elevator in February. Then, TMZ founder and executive producer Harvey Levin promised 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."
TMZ first broke the story in February, when it released security-camera footage showing Rice dragging an unconscious Palmer out of an elevator at the Atlantic City casino. 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 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. 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.