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Former FBI Director To Investigate NFL's Handling Of Ray Rice Case
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Former FBI Director To Investigate NFL's Handling Of Ray Rice Case

Sports

Former FBI Director To Investigate NFL's Handling Of Ray Rice Case

Former FBI Director To Investigate NFL's Handling Of Ray Rice Case
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Former FBI director Robert Mueller III will lead the investigation into how the NFL handled the Ray Rice domestic violence case. Many have criticized the league for not acquiring an elevator security video made public this week by the website TMZ. In it, Rice throws a punch that left his then-fiance unconscious.

ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST:

Former FBI Director Robert Mueller will investigate the National Football League's handling of the Ray Rice domestic violence case. Rice is the former Baltimore Ravens star running back who was caught by the Ravens this week and suspended indefinitely by the NFL. After a video of showing rice punching and knocking out his fiancee, who is now his wife, late last night, Commissioner Roger Goodell announced that the NFL was calling Mueller in.

Joining me now is NPR's sports correspondent Tom Goldman. And, Tom, it appears the focus has shifted this week from Ray Rice to how the NFL has managed or mismanaged the case. What specifically prompted last night's announcement of Robert Mueller's investigation?

TOM GOLDMAN, BYLINE: An Associated Press report yesterday, Robert, that a law enforcement officer who requested anonymity sent the NFL the video of Rice throwing the punch to an NFL executive last April. And the officer played a voicemail recording to the AP, reportedly from an NFL office number. And a female voice says, the video was received, and the person said, quote, "you're right. It's terrible."

Now, this AP report came a day after NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell said in a nationally televised interview that no one in the NFL, to his knowledge, saw the video before it appeared online this past Monday. So suddenly, Goodell has a serious credibility problem. An unnamed owner quoted by Bleacher Report said, if this report is true, this is very bad for our league and for Roger. No owner will support him if this is true.

SIEGEL: According to the AP, the law enforcement source said, it was the second video from inside the elevator that was being discussed, with the...

GOLDMAN: Yes, the second one, where Ray Rice threw the punch, not the first one, where he was seen dragging the woman out of the elevator.

SIEGEL: So what's Mueller going to investigate here? What is he going to do?

GOLDMAN: You know, we haven't gotten details. Obviously, he's expected to get to the bottom of the second video and when the NFL and Goodell actually saw it. Did they see it before Goodell handed down the initial two-game suspension, which was widely criticized as being too lenient? Mueller will look at other aspects of the NFL's investigation, as well. Goodell says, Mueller will be independent in his investigation, although it'll be overseen by two NFL owners who are said to be supporters of Roger Goodell - John Mara of the New York Giants, Art Rooney of the Pittsburgh Steelers. Mueller reportedly will have complete cooperation of NFL employees and access to all NFL records, and his conclusions will be made public.

SIEGEL: What kind of reaction has there been to that announcement of the Mueller investigation?

GOLDMAN: You know, in some quarters, there's belief that having a truly independent report can help, but there is criticism - the most pointed from National Organization for Women president Terry O'Neill. She says, Mueller's investigation is window dressing, and that it's coming up it's covering up what she calls a larger violence against women problem the NFL. She says, this goes beyond Ray Rice.

SIEGEL: Does it? Is there actually a larger problem in the NFL?

GOLDMAN: Well, data compiled by USA Today shows 12 percent of arrests of NFL players since 2000 were for domestic violence. What is certain right now is that the NFL has a tremendous in the image problem, in the way it's dealing with the crime of domestic violence, and not just the Ray Rice case. Two players linked to domestic violence currently are practicing and playing. Panthers defensive end Greg Hardy was convicted on two counts of domestic violence in July. Ray McDonald of the San Francisco 49ers was arrested late last month, just days after Goodell announced a new get tough policy on domestic violence. He hasn't been charged yet.

SIEGEL: OK. Thank you, Tom. That's NPR's sports correspondent, Tom Goldman.

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