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Ravens issue rebuttal to ESPN report that alleged Ray Rice cover-up

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Before the start of Ravens owner Steve Bisciotti's press conference Monday, the team released a detailed statement outlining its objections to the report published Friday by ESPN that alleged the franchise engaged in "purposeful misdirection" with regard to its handling of the Ray Rice domestic abuse case.

Report: Ravens nixed Harbaugh's plea to release Rice in February

The statement aims to refute 15 claims made by ESPN in the report, including the claim, which ESPN attributes to "four sources inside and outside the organization," that head coach John Harbaugh asked that Rice be immediately released after seeing the video of him dragging his unconscious fiancee from an elevator.

"I did not recommend cutting Ray Rice from the team after seeing the first videotape," Harbaugh said in the statement. "I was very disturbed by that tape, and I told people that the facts should determine the consequences. When I saw the second videotape, I immediately felt that we needed to release Ray."

Report disputes Goodell's account of June 16 meeting with Rice​

The statement also takes issue with Rice's belief that Bisciotti was offering him a future job in exchange for his silence.

According to the report, Rice 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.”

"I cannot believe that Ray ever thought I was suggesting he keep quiet, when he got the texts or later on," Bisciotti said in the statement. "They were not an insult. To the contrary, I think he knew these were messages from the heart, as were his responses to me. I wear my heart on my sleeve. Everyone knows that, including Ray."

- Dan Gartland