Exclusive: Under Fire, NFL Adds Details to Effort to Get Ray Rice Tape

NFL never saw video of the punch until it showed up on TMZ.

ByABC News
October 6, 2014, 5:45 PM

— -- The NFL has provided its most detailed explanation yet about the efforts made to determine what happened the night Ray Rice knocked out his now-wife in an Atlantic City elevator.

The account, offered to ABC News by the NFL’s chief spokesman Brian McCarthy, lays out a series of phone calls, written communications and in-person attempts to track down information about the assault and video evidence of the alleged assault. All of it, league officials have said repeatedly, was unsuccessful. That is why NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell has insisted he was surprised when leaked surveillance video of the assault appeared on TMZ.

“We reached out to multiple law enforcement agencies and a court, but were unable to come up with the video,” McCarthy said. “With each of these efforts it was ‘give us everything.’”

Who was contacted by the NFL and when have become central focuses of the domestic-abuse scandal now engulfing the league and jeopardizing the commissioner’s career atop the most valuable sports organization in the country. Goodell, who has apologized repeatedly, has insisted efforts were made to find out what Rice had done to Janay Palmer, now his wife.

The NFL and Goodell came under scathing criticism for initially punishing Rice, a star running back for the Baltimore Ravens, with just a two game suspension. After the surveillance video became public, Goodell acknowledged falling short suspended Rice indefinitely from the NFL.

The new account partially backs up Goodell’s comments Sept. 10 when he was asked why the league hadn’t seen video of Rice’s punch prior to its appearance online. “On multiple occasions, we asked for it. And on multiple occasions we were told no,” Goodell told CBS News.

NFL personnel, McCarthy said, made their first attempt to get information Feb. 19, four days after the assault at the now-closed Revel casino resort on the Boardwalk. That day, Jim Buckley, an NFL security representative based in New Jersey, called the Atlantic City Police Department asked Ava Davenport, supervisor of the records division, for the incident report, McCarthy said. Buckley was told to file an open records request. He was also told the publicly available documents were unlikely to elaborate beyond news accounts of the elevator attack, according to McCarthy.

The NFL also says that on the same day, Buckley called the Atlantic County Solicitor’s Office in an unsuccessful attempt to reach the deputy solicitor. The county’s solicitor acts as civil counsel and has no role in law enforcement.