Ravens Coach Gives Vague Response to Damning ESPN Report

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Ravens head coach John Harbaugh

The report on the Baltimore Ravens’ handling of Ray Rice’s assault, published Friday night by ESPN, is about as damning as they come. After interviewing 20-plus sources, “Outside the Lines” determined the following:

+ Ravens head coach John Harbaugh pushed for Rice to be cut from the team after viewing the initial outside-the-elevator video, but was overruled by owner Steve Bisciotti, president Dick Cass, and general manager Ozzie Newsome.

+ Ravens management were given a “detailed description” of the inside-the-elevator video footage within hours of the incident. The team did not request the video from either the police or Rice’s attorney, who had a copy.

+ Bisciotti, Cass, an Newsome “began extensive public and private campaigns pushing for leniency for Rice on several fronts: from the judicial system in Atlantic County, where Rice faced assault charges, to commissioner Goodell, who ultimately would decide the number of games Rice would be suspended from this fall, to within their own building, where some were arguing immediately after the incident that Rice should be released.”

+ Cass urged Rice’s attorney to get Rice into a pretrial intervention program after learning that it would keep the inside-the-elevator footage from seeing the light of day.

The Ravens denied that they were aware that Rice knocked out Janay Palmer “with a punch.” They claimed that Cass never pressured Rice’s lawyer to take a given course of action, that “Harbaugh did not want to release Ray Rice until he saw the second video on September 8 for the first time,” and that the ESPN report contained “numerous errors, inaccuracies, false assumptions and, perhaps, misunderstandings.”

Harbaugh responded to the report with generalities. “The way we handled it all the way through I felt like was the right way to handle it all the way through. I felt like we did the right thing, and I stand behind it,” he said. In his response to the alleged disagreement between him and Ravens executives on whether to release Rice, Harbaugh seemed to contradict the Ravens’ claim that he did not originally want Rice to be cut: “Just like every football decision, you get together, you hash it out. Ozzie uses the term scrimmaging. You scrimmage it out, everybody’s got their opinions. It’s not black and white.”

The Ravens say they will respond in greater detail later today.


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