The NFL has given ABC News a detailed account of the league's attempts to obtain information about the night that Ray Rice was arrested for assault, and it portrays NFL security as a stunningly incompetent organization. As told to ABC News by NFL spokesperson Brian McCarthy, the NFL attempted to obtain information four separate times.
On February 19th, four days after Rice was arrested, NFL security staffer Jim Buckley called the Atlantic City Police Department and asked for the incident report. Buckley was told to file an open records request, and was cautioned that the information probably wouldn't be all that useful. (According to an open records request we filed, the NFL actually took that advice, and didn't bother to ask for anything.) On the same day, Buckley also called the Atlantic County Solicitor's Office—a shop which had nothing whatever to do with the investigation—but wasn't successful in reaching the solicitor that he was seeking.
The next day, the NFL and the New Jersey State Police had a previously scheduled meeting to review the security for Super Bowl XLVIII, which had recently been played in New Jersey. At this meeting, NFL security chief Jeffrey Miller asked about the Ray Rice case, but was told the state police were not involved in the investigation. According to the NFL, that was their last attempt to gain any information about the Ray Rice case for almost four months.
On June 6th, Jim Buckley asked the Atlantic County Superior Court pre-trial intervention director Jill Houck—who oversaw the pre-trial intervention program Rice was accepted into—for "any and all information, including video, about the case." Houck only sent him the indictment, which had been publicly available for months.
This is the true account according to the NFL, but ABC News was able to find plenty of contradictory evidence:
The league's account contradicts information provided to ABC News by the the Atlantic City Police Department. An assistant city attorney in Atlantic City, Benjamin Kaufman, told ABC News he could find no record of any communication between the NFL and either the police or City Hall.
ABC News has also learned that there is no record the NFL made any effort to contact the two specific agencies that had copies of the video: the Atlantic County Prosecutor's Office and the New Jersey Gaming Enforcement Division. Both agencies, in response to records requests, told ABC News they have nothing on file confirming contact with the NFL.
Even if we accept the NFL's version of events at face value, though, it's incredible how half-assed their attempts to find out information were. The NFL's story is that they:
- Were told to file an open records request for information, and subsequently neglected to do so
- Called somebody up, and after they couldn't reach the person one time, stopped trying
- Had a conversation with some cops who weren't involved in the investigation
- Did nothing for four months, before asking a court official for information and getting nothing
And that's it. That's the NFL's story! The NFL has decided that their only possible defense is gross incompetence, and they're doing everything possible to push that narrative. If the league is telling the truth, they're saying they put in less work trying to find out information than I put in writing up this post.