So ... this is very strange.
As a highly attentive commenter on our earlier post on ESPN's big Ray Rice/NFL cover-up scoop noted, at 5:43 Eastern tonight, Bob Ley stated as fact that Outside the Lines's sources were saying that the NFL and the Baltimore Ravens were lying about one of the central questions in the ongoing scandal over the investigation into and discipline of Rice: When did team and league officials first see footage of Rice knocking his fiancée out? Was it when TMZ released the video last week? Or was it, as there is good reason to think, some time well before that? Ley—literally reading from a script—offered a straight answer:
Ravens officials have said that they did not have a full picture of what happened in the elevator until the video was made public, but sources said the Ravens had a cell phone copy of the inside elevator video all along and that a casino employee had also given a copy to an NFL security official.
If true, this is the stuff of midnight resignations for NFL and Ravens higher-ups. Is it?
Well, at 6:18 Eastern, Ley walked back OTL's reporting on whether the Ravens had a cell phone copy of the elevator video: "We want to correct an earlier report. The Ravens at no point had a cell phone video of that incident, but they had a detailed account." Going by closed captioning transcripts of ESPN programming, though, he hasn't done so with the claim that a Revel Casino employee gave a copy of the video to the NFL. (We have a line in to ESPN on this and will update if we hear back.)
It's worth noting that this is Bob Ley, not some shout-show bloviator, and that he was reading from a script—this wasn't a misstatement, or something he was just saying off the top of his head. One might surmise that he was going off of details that were pulled from OTL's devastating report at the last second, possibly because ESPN wasn't quite ready yet to pull the trigger on them. Know more? Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Update: ESPN points us to the following from Lindsay Czarniak, which aired just before 7:00 Eastern on Sportscenter. We'll note that ESPN doesn't explicitly retract the claim about the NFL; Czarniak says that it was "mistakenly reported ... that a source said the Ravens and NFL security had a copy of the surveillance video," a way of putting things that could be parsed various ways. She then explains that the Ravens were aware of the content of the video and that the NFL ... denies having had the video. (Of course it does.) Read into this what you will.