There was no reason not to look at the tape. That's really all you need to come to the conclusion that the NFL is completely full of shit when it comes to the entire Ray Rice affair.
You already know that the league and the Ravens have publicly denied seeing the tape of Rice knocking his wife out until yesterday morning (with that fucking moron Chris Berman toeing the company line), and you know that TMZ has conflicting reports saying the NFL deliberately chose not to see the tape but that some NFL security dudes did see the tape. Then you have Peter King backtracking on his claim that the NFL totally saw the tape, seemingly deploying his girth as a human shield for his precious sources. We have already begun the long and sordid process of obfuscating the truth more the further we get from the February morning that Ray Rice knocked out his fiancée. We'll never get any solid evidence that Roger Goodell saw the tape before Monday morning, because that evidence is probably sitting in a Windows desktop recycling bin somewhere, and because the NFL reporters who are best positioned to dope out the truth here have every reason to sit this one out and not advertise the fact that they got played by their sources. ("I hope when this story is fully vetted ..." Peter King wrote on Monday, the passive construction telling you all you needed to know about who wouldn't be doing the vetting.)
But we don't need that evidence when common sense can fill in the gaps. The NFL had every chance to look at the tape ages ago. There was NO good reason to deliberately avoid it. Consider:
- Roger Goodell really likes suspending players, as a way of consolidating power in his office.
- Roger Goodell really likes making STRONG statements, as a way of ginning up good public relations.
- Anyone investigating the incident is going to want to see the tape in order to to nail down every last detail.
- The tape was bound to surface at some point anyway. Lots of people had seen it. Lots of people had talked to people who'd seen it. A random Deadspin tipster, emailing us shortly after the arrest, knew what was on the tape, down to the detail—confirmed today by the AP—that Palmer had spit on Rice.
- Legally speaking, nothing good can come from avoiding the tape.
- You could probably guess what was on the tape, given that the other tape shows Ray Rice dragging his unconscious fiancée out into the casino lobby.
Now, Roger Goodell is a big stupid meathead of a guy, but even he isn't stupid enough to say, "Hey, let's be shady and bury this thing forever just to protect Ray Rice MWAHAHAHAHAHA." No way, man. They saw the tape. Of course they saw the tape. They knew what was on there, and they heard Janay Rice state her case in person with her hubby and Goodell and four other high-ranking league and Ravens assholes right there, and they thought, sure, two games sounds all right. And that logic filtered through the league office, down to the Ravens, out to national media hand puppets like Adam Schefter and Chris Mortensen, and it hardened into the conventional wisdom. Everything is easily explained if you accept that these are all a bunch of stupid men who think very much alike.
As of right now, the NFL is doing everything in its power to make you believe that it would never be so insensitive, but it's failing miserably. No lifetime suspension or display of league righteousness will make up for the glaring lack of anger over the past few months. There was no good reason not to watch that tape. They saw it, and they thought little of it, and now they're praying you don't notice.
Photo via Associated Press