The NFL failed to investigate the Ray Rice case properly, according to former FBI director Robert Mueller.
“The NFL should have done more with the information it had and should have taken additional steps to obtain all available information about the February 15 incident,” Mueller said in a statement after releasing his 96-page report on the handling of the Rice matter.
The report found no evidence the league received a video of the Baltimore Ravens running back knocking out his fiancee in a casino elevator before it was published online in September.
A law enforcement official showed The Associated Press videos of the incident and said he mailed a DVD to NFL headquarters in April.
The report said a review of phone records and emails of NFL employees showed no evidence that anyone in the league had seen the video before Commissioner Roger Goodell initially suspended Rice for two games.
The private investigation without subpoena power did not include any contact with the law enforcement official who showed the AP the videos.
The officer played the AP a 12-second voicemail from an NFL office number dated April 9, in which a woman verifies receipt of the DVD and says: “You’re right, it’s terrible.”
The official, who insisted on anonymity because he was not authorised to share the evidence, says he took steps to avoid being found or identified by the NFL.
Mueller found the NFL’s deference to the law enforcement process involving Rice “led to deficiencies in the league’s collection and analysis of information during its investigation.”
He added such an approach “can foster an environment in which it is less important to understand precisely what a player did than to understand how and when the criminal justice system addresses the event.”
Mueller’s report details some of the efforts the NFL made in obtaining the video, but said the league should have taken additional steps to find out what happened inside the elevator.
The report also said the league didn’t follow up on initial conversations with the Ravens to determine whether the team had more information.
Giants owner John Mara and Steelers President Art Rooney, the men appointed by Goodell as liaisons to the investigation, said Mueller made six recommendations that the owners will review.
Rooney and Mara agreed that the league’s policy on domestic violence was insufficient.