Ravens dispute ESPN report on team's handling of Ray Rice
Baltimore Ravens owner Steve Bisciotti refuted an ESPN report on the team's handling of Ray Rice during a press conference Monday, alleging that Rice's camp had "manufactured" the accounts in the story to build a case for Rice's reinstatement.
The team also released a 15-point statement responding to the report.
On Friday, ESPN's Outside the Lines released a report that found "a pattern of misinformation and misdirection employed by the Ravens and the NFL" after the Feb. 15 incident when Rice struck his then-fiancée in a casino elevator.
At the press conference on Monday, Bisciotti said, "Our integrity has been brought into question." He claimed that ESPN's report relied on people who work for Rice, including Rice's attorney, agent and friends.
"They are building a case for reinstatement. And the best way to build a case for reinstatement is to make it seem like everyone else is lying. Their accusations didn’t jive with what we knew as fact," said Bisciotti.
Rice had been suspended indefinitely by the NFL after the video from inside the elevator was released by TMZ on Sept. 8.
Bisciotti said that after both Rice and Janay Palmer were charged with misdemeanors after the incident, he had no interest to see the video footage from the elevator. "It didn't cross my mind," he said. (Charges were dropped against Palmer. Rice's charges were upgraded to a felony, but he was accepted into a pretrial intervention program.)
"It seems to me in hindsight that we certainly had the leverage to say to Ray and his lawyer that we can't have him play on our team until we have that last bit of evidence," Biscotti said.
The owner was also asked about those who feel that someone in the organization should be punished over the handling of the situation. Bisciotti said, "No one is losing a job here. I'm very confident in that."
The ESPN report also said that Bisciotti, team president Dick Cass and general manager Ozzie Newsome rejected a request from coach John Harbaugh in February to release Rice following video showing Rice dragging his unconscious fiancée out of the elevator. The Ravens and Harbaugh denied this in Monday's statement.
ESPN released a statement after the press conference saying it stands by its reporting.
- Molly Geary