BALTIMORE (WJZ)—Ravens owner Steve Bisciotti talked about allegations made by an ESPN article Monday afternoon.
Investigative reporter Mike Hellgren has the latest developments.
Team management responded to the allegations Monday.
The Ravens remain under fire for their handling of Ray Rice after an explosive ESPN report detailed how members of the organization knew about Rice’s knockout punch to his then fiancée Janay from the beginning but tried to stop the video from going public and lobbied for Rice to get a lenient punishment.
This is the spotlight Ravens owner Steve Bisciotti never wanted. In a rare press conference, he came out fighting allegations his team knew from the start about the Ray Rice punch and worked to get him a light punishment.
“When your integrity is questioned, it’s pretty humbling,” he said.
Bisciotti claims Rice and his team—from his lawyer to his agent—are behind the scathing ESPN report that Ravens management lied to cover up the mess.
“They are building a case for reinstatement and the best way to build a case for reinstatement is to make everybody else look like they’re lying,” he said.
But Bisciotti also puts blame on himself and it starts with the video he says he should have gotten.
“I’m sorry for that—deeply sorry for that. If it had crossed my mind, I would have demanded it,” he said. “[Janay is] still the one that’s still suffering the most because now she has an unemployed husband and this thing is being replayed over and over in the press.”
Bisciotti denied he was too cozy with NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell and calling in favors for Rice.
“I expected four or six games. I was as surprised as everybody else that it was two,” he said.
He was unapologetic about texts he sent Rice after firing him, telling Rice he loved him and offering him a future job mentoring young players. Bisciotti said it was not a bribe.
“I believe this was Ray’s one terrible moment,” he said. “I had all the faith in the world that if he could be hired by the NFL again, he’s going to go on for bigger and better things.”
The report alleges Coach John Harbaugh initially fought to get Rice off the team.
On Sunday night, Harbaugh addressed that, saying managers made the decision together and he supported it.
“Every single football decision we make we work together. Just like every football decision. We get together, we hash it out. Ozzie uses the term scrimmage; you scrimmage out everything. Everyone has got their opinions. It’s not black and white. There’s never nuance in anything, and that decision was exactly like all the other ones,” Harbaugh said. “When we walk out that room, we are united. We stand shoulder to shoulder, and that’s how I felt about that decision. I thought it was the right decision. The way we handled it all the way through I felt was the right way to handle it. I stand behind it.
The report says Ravens general manager Dick Cass worked with Rice’s lawyer, Michael Diamondstein, in moves that would keep the case from trial. The report says Diamondstein described the video to Cass, but Cass never asked for a copy.
“I think Ray will emerge from this whole proceeding and incident as a stronger person with a stronger relationship with his wife,” Cass said in May.
ESPN says the team fought so hard for Rice because of how active he was in the community.
The ESPN report also says after releasing Rice, owner Steve Bisciotti texted Rice–offering him a future job.
“If this is a seminal moment for domestic violence and the way we handle it as a society then that’s not a burden for us to be that poster boy,” Bisciotti said.
According to the report, the elevator altercation was fueled by alcohol and a fight over text messages a woman sent to Rice. But it’s now mushroomed into perhaps the biggest scandal in NFL history.
“All I can do is try to correct our wrongs and do what we think is right,” Bisciotti said. “I can’t please those people that think we didn’t do enough.”
Bisciotti said that Roger Goodell told him that the NFL couldn’t do anything until the police investigation was done.
“I feel if we had gotten the tape earlier on, then it would have been a precedent-setting [event],” Bisciotti said. “It would have been taken out of our hands.”
Bisciotti says not getting the video was a big fail.
“With the threat of being cut or suspended, the onus would have been on them to produce the video. That’s where we failed.”
Steve Bisciotti said that he doesn’t blame Ray and that he hopes that he will do well.
“People that redeem themselves are the best ones to teach others,” Bisciotti said.
Earlier Monday, Ravens wide receiver Torrey Smith spoke at a school but refused to address the Ray Rice situation. However, he did speak about domestic violence, saying “I never put on my hands on a woman.”
ESPN says it stands by its reporting on Rice and the Ravens’ role in the scandal.
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