The Baltimore Ravens were silent for most of the day on Monday after TMZ released footage of Ray Rice assaulting his fiancee Janay Palmer. At 2:18 PM that the team finally broke that silence by tweeting the news of Rice’s release.
The #Ravens have terminated RB Ray Rice's contract this afternoon.
— Baltimore Ravens (@Ravens) September 8, 2014
After the tweet, head coach John Harbaugh held a press conference Monday evening to discuss the team’s decision. Few questions were answered. Minimal information was shared.
No need to have press conf if ur not going to answer questions. Specifically, "what changed…?" and Harbaugh wouldn't answer. Disappointed.
— Sage Steele (@sagesteele) September 8, 2014
GM Ozzie Newsome, team President Dick Cass and owner Steve Bisciotti were not present to answer questions.
Many criticized the team for forcing Harbaugh to answer questions about Rice, wondering where the Ravens front office and ownership was to discuss the decision during one of the team’s most difficult days. Bisciotti explained to the Baltimore Sun’s Jeff Zrebiec that he was simply too emotional to speak.
"It seems to me that people thought we were shunning our responsibilities," Bisciotti said. "That seems to be pretty consistent. So for me to say, I regret that people thought we threw John out there and we should have been the ones, I will tell you that this was so emotionally tough on us on Monday that there is no way I could have prepared to meet the press that day. There’s just no way."
Bisciotti’s comments haven’t resonated well, especially considering how actively the team defended Rice after his suspension. Senior Vice President of Public and Community Relations Kevin Byrne wrote a lengthy piece about why he liked Rice that was published the day after the NFL issued his initial two game suspension. The team’s official website published a blogpost about fans that gave Rice a standing ovation during an open practice at M&T Bank Stadium.
But when it came time to answer the tough questions — well, we got crickets.
"I think whatever we gained by going out there and talking, we wouls have lost by saying the wrong things," Bisciotti said. "If Ozzie has taught me one thing in our 14 years together, it’s that any big decision, he likes to sleep on. I want an answer right way. Ozzie never gives it to me. He always says, ‘Let me think on it, I’ll talk to you tomorrow about it.’ We’ve come to learn to wait on Ozzie and we usually get good counsel when it comes to football decisions. I channeled him when we decided that we weren’t ready to talk to the press that day."
Bisciotti sent a letter to season ticket holders explaining how he let them down and the Ravens have since offered a Ray Rice jersey exchange program to fans. But questions haven’t been answered and there are many that need to be addressed.
For starters, Newsome told The Sun that Rice accurately explained the events of the night to the team:
“Ray had given a story to John [Harbaugh] and I,” Newsome said, according to the Sun. “And what we saw on the video was what Ray said. Ray didn’t lie to me. He didn’t lie to me.”
But Cass answered the same question by saying that Rice omitted details:
“There’s a big difference between reading a report that says he knocked her unconscious or being told that someone had slapped someone and that she had hit her head. That is one version of the facts. That’s what we understood to be the case. When you see the video, it just looks very different than what we understood the facts to be.”
When will this be addressed? Who will answer this question?
Now the Associated Press is reporting that a law enforcement official has a voicemail from an NFL office number confirming that the league received a DVD copy of the surveillance video of Rice’s assault on April 9.