America’s National Football League (NFL) has appointed a former head of the FBI to investigate its handling of the Ray Rice scandal after a new report contradicted the league’s insistence that, until this week, no one had seen a video that depicted Mr Rice striking his then-fiancée in an Atlantic City hotel.
Several people familiar with the inner workings of the league said NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell had no plans to heed the calls for him to resign over his handling of the case involving the former Baltimore Ravens player.
The league announced on Wednesday night that Robert Mueller, former director of the FBI, would conduct an “independent investigation into the NFL’s pursuit and handling of evidence in the Ray Rice incident”.
Owners John Mara of the New York Giants and Art Rooney II of the Pittsburgh Steelers are to oversee the investigation, according to the league. The final report will be released to the public, the NFL said.
According to the league’s announcement, Mr Goodell has promised that Mr Mueller, a Washington-based partner in the law firm WilmerHale, will be granted “the full co-operation of NFL personnel and access to all NFL records”.
Earlier on Wednesday, a law enforcement official told the Associated Press he had sent the now infamous video to an NFL executive in early April. The official reportedly played a voicemail from 9 April from an NFL office number in which a female voice confirmed the arrival of the video, expressed thanks and said: “You’re right. It’s terrible.”
Prior to the report, Mr Goodell was said to be adamant he would not resign. “That’s not a consideration,” said a league source.
Criticism of Mr Goodell and the league has intensified following Monday’s release of the footage from inside the elevator by the gossip website TMZ. The National Organisation for Women has called for Mr Goodell’s resignation.
An executive with one NFL team on said Tuesday that “if you’re asking me if people are ready to throw [Mr Goodell] overboard, the answer is no”.
The Baltimore Ravens released Mr Rice on Monday after the video became public and the NFL suspended Mr Rice indefinitely. Ravens owner Steve Bisciotti told the Baltimore Sun: “We all failed. The buck stops with me.”
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