Baltimore Ravens coach John Harbaugh urged team executives to release Ray Rice in February after seeing video of Rice dragging his unconscious fiancée out of a casino elevator, but the executives overruled him, according to a report from Don Van Natta Jr. and Kevin Van Valkenburg of ESPN.
According to the report, Baltimore owner Steve Bisciotti, team president Dick Cass and general manager Ozzie Newsome rejected Harbaugh's request. The Ravens, in the story, denied that Harbaugh wanted to release Rice until Sept. 8, when TMZ published video from inside the elevator that showed Rice striking his fiancée.
After offensive lineman Jah Reid was arrested March 8 in Florida, the third Ravens player to be arrested in the offseason along with Rice and receiver Deonte Thompson, Harbaugh reportedly again went to the team's executives and recommended the release of all three players.
Newsome reportedly "bristled at the recommendation, saying he was the decision-maker in the matter, not Harbaugh, and he believed in second chances."
Another portion of the report states that Rice received a pair of text messages from Bisciotti after Rice had been cut from the team on Sept. 8. The texts, according to the ESPN report, said the team would “have a job waiting for you with the Ravens helping young guys getting acclimated to the league” once Rice's NFL career was over.
When contacted by ESPN, the Ravens did not deny Bisciotti sent the messages. According to the report, Rice later told friends he thought Bisciotti was implying the franchise would look out for him if he “kept quiet and stuck to the story that he had misled team officials and Goodell.”
- Molly Geary and Dan Gartland