Hundreds of NFL employees have given their phone and email records to investigators, as a former FBI director prepares a report examining how league Commissioner Roger Goodell handled evidence in the now-infamous Ray Rice violence case.
On Tuesday night at the league’s headquarters in New York City, 500 NFL employees handed over phone and email records to investigators working for former FBI director Robert Mueller, The Associated Press first reported. Mueller, who is conducting an ongoing investigation into the NFL’s pursuing of the Rice affair, is expected to release his report detailing his findings this month. But an AP report has claimed that a league official received the tape shortly after the story went public in February.
In September, the NFL indefinitely suspended Rice, a running back for the Baltimore Ravens, after disturbing footage surfaced of the player striking his then-fiance in an Atlantic City hotel elevator on Feb. 15. Rice was arrested in February for the event; he was accepted to an intervention program and the charges were dropped.
Goodell claimed that no NFL official had seen the footage of the altercation before September. But a previous AP story claimed that a league official received the tape shortly after the story went public. Goodell faced mounting pressure from both fans and legislators to resign for previously failing to suspend Rice when initial details of the domestic violence case were revealed.
Sources reportedly told the AP that Mueller’s team requested the NFL employees cooperate by turning over the information. Mueller, who led the FBI for more than a decade under former President George W. Bush and President Barack Obama, now works in a Washington law firm.
In the aftermath of Rice’s altercation, the NFL instituted a stronger policy to combat domestic abuse by personnel on and off the field. The incident began a national debate over how the NFL handles physical abuse perpetrated by players, and how critically the league examined Rice’s case before rendering its decision. The Minnesota Vikings initially deactivated running back Adrian Peterson when reports were published in September that he had beaten his child with a tree branch. The controversy over NFL player violence has tainted the league’s image this year.
Last week, the NFL revealed a new personal conduct policy, which includes a minimum six-game suspension without pay for any domestic violence infraction and the creation of a special league disciplinary officer.