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NFL's Baltimore Ravens Cut Ray Rice After New Video Surfaces

Baltimore Ravens running back Ray Rice was suspended by the NFL for two games this season after an incident in which he assaulted his then-fiancee, Janay Palmer.
Patrick Semansky
Baltimore Ravens running back Ray Rice was suspended by the NFL for two games this season after an incident in which he assaulted his then-fiancee, Janay Palmer.

A leaked video of the altercation between football star Ray Rice and his then-fiancee, Janay Palmer, that took place earlier this year has led the Baltimore Ravens to terminate Rice's contract.

The NFL says Rice has also been suspended indefinitely.

The newly released video shows the couple in an apparent argument before Palmer collapses after being hit in the face. It emerged early Monday, days before Rice's two-game suspension over the incident had been set to end.

"The #Ravens have terminated RB Ray Rice's contract this afternoon," the team's official Twitter account announced. The team says it will hold a news conference about its decision tonight at 8 p.m. ET.

The NFL says it had not previously seen the video that emerged today:

"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 and no one in our office has seen it until today."

Ravens head coach John Harbaugh said the same thing, during a press conference. He said he had seen the full video for the first time today.

He was asked why the team had not seen the whole video. "I have no answer for that," Harbaugh said.

Harbaugh added that he would always "stand in support of them as a couple."

"I have nothing but hope and good will for Ray and Janay and we'll do whatever we can going forward to help them," he said.

Rice, 27, will not be paid for the rest of the season. In the NFL, most contracts are structured to allow a team to release a player whenever they wish (the players can then become free agents).

"Rice had three years remaining on his contract at $4 million this season, $3 million next season and $3 million in 2016," ESPN reports. "The Ravens will not owe Rice any money."

We've updated the top of this post to reflect the suspension of Rice and the press conference by Ravens head coach James Harbaugh.

Our original post continues:

Rice and Palmer married earlier this year, one day after the running back was indicted on an assault charge over the incident.

When NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell announced in July that Rice would be suspended without pay for two games and miss an additional paycheck, many criticized the move as too lenient. Goodell acknowledged as much a month later, when he announced the league's new policy for domestic disputes.

But now the questions center on whether Goodell and the NFL had access to the security camera video of the incident that took place in an Atlantic City casino's elevator in February.

The video was released today by the website TMZ; in it, Rice delivers what looks to be a savage blow to Palmer's head, sending her into the elevator's side railing and onto the floor. We'll note that the video's quality is a bit rough; TMZ says it "cleaned up" the raw footage. The combination of the blurriness and the speed at which things apparently happened make parts of it hard to decipher clearly.

The NFL says it hadn't seen the video before today, according to Baltimore Sun reporter Jeff Zrebiec.

But TMZ reports that a former employee of the hotel (at the recently closed Revel casino) says the NFL had seen the footage from inside the elevator. And USA Today notes that two reporters who cover the league, SI.com's Peter King and ESPN's Chris Mortensen, mentioned the same video this summer. Speaking about the video Monday, King says the league never refuted that version of events before today.

Previously released footage from that February night had shown only the scene from outside the elevator, as Rice dragged an apparently unconscious Palmer out and into a hallway.

The new footage emerged just days before Rice's team, the Ravens, will play its second game of the season Thursday — a game whose end would have also signaled the end of Rice's suspension.

As the NFL noted in July, Rice faced neither jail time nor a fine over the February incident.


"Both Rice and Palmer were charged with simple assault in the Feb. 15 incident. In March, a grand jury cranked up the charge against Rice to third-degree aggravated assault, a felony; the charge against Palmer was dropped altogether. In May, Rice entered a diversionary program that would allow him to avoid trial. Upon completion of the one-year program, his assault charge will be dismissed."

Copyright 2020 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Bill Chappell is a writer and editor on the News Desk in the heart of NPR's newsroom in Washington, D.C.
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