By SI Wire
December 19, 2014

An ESPN report earlier this month "mischaracterized" an email from NFL investigator Jim Buckley to league security head Jeffrey B. Miller, according to ProFootballTalk's Mike Florio

ESPN's original report, based on a transcript from Ray Rice's appeal hearing, said that Buckley told Miller in an email, "I never contacted anyone about the tape." The NFL later released a statement saying ESPN's report "distorts the testimony and evidence."

The quote in question, the NFL said, was not from the email but rather from the Rice's lawyer's questioning of commissioner Roger Goodell during the appeal hearing "mischaracterizing the evidence." 

Florio says he has obtained the email in question and the page of the transcript ESPN based its report on. "[T]he NFL is right," Florio concluded. 

Goodell has said that the first time he saw video showing Rice striking his wife was when it was published by TMZ on Sept. 8. He also said the NFL was "never granted the opportunity" to see it prior to that. The Associated Press later reported that a law enforcement official said he sent a copy of the video to an NFL executive in April. The AP said it listened to a voicemail from an NFL employee confirming the office received it.  

Rice testified during the appeal hearing that he would have allowed his lawyer to give a copy of the video to NFL officials.

• Barack Obama: NFL 'behind the curve' in handling of Rice case

The NFL's statement did not address any other portion of the ESPN report, including Rice's testimony that he told Goodell during their June meeting that he hit Janay. Goodell had said publicly that Rice's account of the incident was ambiguous.

In her decision reinstating Rice, the arbitrator, former federal judge Barbara S. Jones, wrote that she believed he did not lie to the NFL during the meeting with Goodell, making his indefinite suspension "arbitrary."

Goodell has come under intense scrutiny for his handling of the Rice case. Multiple reports have questioned his transparency throughout the process. NFL Players Association president Eric Winston said last month that he thinks Goodell’s credibility is “definitely lacking” among current players.

After Goodell's handling of the Rice incident was widely criticized, Goodell ordered ex-FBI director Robert Mueller III to lead an independent investigation into the Rice case and how the NFL handled it.

The Ravens terminated Rice’s contract the day of the video's release – a move over which he filed a grievance. A hearing for Rice’s grievance against the Ravens is set for Jan. 15.

- Dan Gartland

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