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NFL chief Goodell faces intense criticism after Rice video

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Courtesy CNN

Courtesy CNN

(CNN) — National Football League Commissioner Roger Goodell is coming under intense criticism Tuesday for the way he handled the case of running back Ray Rice, who was seen in a newly released video punching his then-fiancée in an elevator so hard she drops to the ground.

In the video, published Monday by TMZ, Janay Rice, now his wife, lies face down on an Atlantic City, New Jersey, casino elevator floor before Rice is seen picking up her body like a rag doll and dragging her out and dropping her.

Ray Rice’s career appears all but over — after the video surfaced, he was released by the Baltimore Ravens and was suspended indefinitely by the NFL.

Roger Goodell, in his first televised comments since suspending Rice, told CBS News that he came into the office Monday and was told about the new video.

He said the league “assumed that there was a video” of what occurred in the elevator and the NFL asked for it, but league officials were “never granted that opportunity” to see it.

The commissioner also explained that the NFL requested the video from law enforcement because “that’s the most reliable, the most credible” way to gather evidence for its investigations.

Before the TMZ video’s release, Goodell had suspended Rice without pay from two games. That move was in reaction to an initial video that showed the football player dragging a limp Janay Rice from the elevator. Ray Rice was then also fined for “conduct detrimental to the NFL,” according to a league statement. The total amount the multimillion-dollar player was set to lose reportedly was $529,411.

Rice’s wife apparently posted a statement Tuesday on Instagram calling the situation a “nightmare.”

“To take something away from the man I love that he has worked his ass off for all his life just to gain ratings is a horrific (sic),” she wrote.

The Instagram post, reported by various media, appeared to be authentic.

The new video has outraged many. Questions must be answered, Goodell’s critics say, and some are even wondering if the NFL commissioner is fit for his job.

The San Francisco Chronicle sport columnist Ann Killion wrote: “Roger Goodell should follow Rice out the door — his leadership has no integrity and no longer can be trusted by the public. He should resign.”

Outspoken sports TV personality Keith Olbermann called Goodell an “enabler of men” and demanded the commissioner resign. Olbermann called for such action when the first video emerged in reaction to the two-game suspension. This week Olbermann reportedly accused the NFL of a “cover-up.”

The Washington Post demanded answers from Goodell, while ESPN called the commissioner’s handling of the Rice case an “epic failure.”

“Goodell elected himself the league’s top cop. Is he Barney Fife?” wrote journalist Jason Whitlock. “Did he not talk to the police or hotel security personnel who saw the tape?”

And those are questions many are repeating: Did the NFL know about the tape TMZ released? Did the league request it?

NFL officials said they asked police for the tape published by TMZ, but police did not give it to them.

Brian McCarthy, NFL vice president of corporate communications, said that security for Atlantic City casinos is handled by the New Jersey State Police.

In a statement to CNN on Tuesday, McCarthy said: “Any videos related to an ongoing criminal investigation are held in the custody of the state police. As we said yesterday: We requested from law enforcement any and all information about the incident, including the video from inside the elevator. That video was not made available to us.”

Coy Wire, a former NFL player-turned-Fox sports analyst, told CNN on Tuesday that he doubted the NFL was unaware about the TMZ video.

The NFL should have done more to find it, he insisted. “There should have been a way for them to find out,” he said. “And if not, well then, they need to hire someone from TMZ to do the investigative services for them because I think that’s absurd.

“For them to not make a concerted effort to find out what really happened inside the elevator, it baffles me.”

Former Ravens offensive lineman Wally Williams said that he agrees. “They (the NFL) are just trying to save themselves on this one,” he said. “I think they all had an opportunity to see this video.”

Other players have expressed their disgust on Twitter.

Green Bay Packer T.J. Lang on Monday tweeted, “2 games. Disturbing.”

Former NFL player London Fletcher’s message of disappointment was retweeted more than 1,800 times.

“@nflcommish to say you got that wrong is an understatement. Very disappointed in you. Wow…unbelievable.”

Ex-Washington Redskins’ Sage Rosenfels tweeted: “Roger Goodell made $44 Million last year to make really difficult decisions. This was an easy one.”

Rosenfels slammed Goodell’s decisions about Rice in an essay shared widely on social media. He expressed sadness for Rice’s wife and her family, and said he’s jaded about the business of football. He said he wasn’t surprised at how things played out in this case.

“Roger Goodell’s job is to have the league’s best interest at front and center,” he wrote. “If everyone thinks players, coaches, and owners are solid citizens, it helps the bottom line. But instead of talking about the huge win by the Falcons, Bills or Dolphins today, we are talking about this. That is Goodell’s fault. But I don’t think anything will happen to Roger. He’s done too many good things for the owners who are his real bosses. They are raking in crazy dollars.”

He goes on: “So when the NFL and Ravens (say) they didn’t see the most recent video of the knockout in the elevator, I have two thoughts. Either they are lying or they didn’t look hard enough, two things that are inexcusable in my opinion.”

CNN’s Jill Martin and Jennifer Bernstein contributed to this report.

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