Everyone knows a picture is worth a thousand words. But, for Ray Rice, video may cost him a multimillion dollar career.
The NFL running back was cut by the Baltimore Ravens and suspended indefinitely by the NFL on Monday, hours after a video showed him knocking out his then-fiancee inside an Atlantic City casino elevator.
The information in the video is not new. Rice has been in a pretrial intervention program since May 20, for the Feb. 15 incident at now-closed Revel Casino-Hotel in which he was accused of knocking Janay Palmer unconscious.
But the surveillance video showing Palmer as she is struck and appears to hit her head on the elevator railing as she crumples to the ground is what finally led the Ravens to cut their star running back.
"The Baltimore Ravens terminated the contract of RB Ray Rice this afternoon," the Ravens said in a release.
It's something we saw for the first time today and it changed things of course," Coach John Harbaugh said, addressing the media after practice Monday. "It made things a little bit different."
He said that he wished Rice well, and hopes that he and Palmer can continue to work things out.
"When someone that you care about does wrong and is faced with the consequence of doing wrong, and rightfully so, it is tough," Harbaugh said.
The Baltimore Ravens had not taken any action against Rice previously, even after an earlier TMZ-released video showed the aftermath of the Feb. 15, elevator incident, with Rice appearing to drag an unconscious Palmer out of the elevator.
The new video shows Rice hit Janay Palmer, who hits him back. Rice then punches her in the face and Palmer falls, appearing to hit her head on the elevator railing. When the elevator doors open, he tries at least twice to pick up Palmer, then moves her out lifting her from behind as her knees drag on the ground.
She is then splayed facedown. He then tries to move her up. After a full minute passes, Palmer appears to come to. More than a minute and half later, another person — who appears to be a woman — is seen helping Palmer up. When Rice reaches out to her, Palmer slaps his arm away.
Both Rice and Palmer were originally charged with simple assault in the incident.
But after the first TMZ video was released, the Atlantic County Prosecutor’s Office took over the investigation. The charge against Palmer was dropped and the one against Rice increased, and brought before the grand jury.
He was indicted March 27. The next day, he and Palmer married, as previously planned, representatives of the couple said.
NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell suspended Rice for two games, but has since admitted “I didn’t get it right.” That sparked new league rules that would include a six-game suspension for a domestic violence conviction.
“My disciplinary decision led the public to question our sincerity, our commitment and whether we understood the toll that domestic violence inflicts on so many families,” Goodell wrote in a letter to league owners weeks ago. “I take responsibility both for the decision and for ensuring that our actions in the future properly reflect our values.”
Both the league and the Ravens have denied seeing the video inside the elevator until it was made public Monday.
The Atlantic County Prosecutor's Office has not released video, saying it’s investigatory. Atlantic County Prosecutor Jim McClain would not comment on whether Goodell or anyone with the NFL had been shown the video before deciding on his suspension.
But Deadspin.com refers back to when the story broke, showing that reporting by Sports Illustrated’s Peter King and ESPN’s Chris Mortensen indicated some had seen it.
On Monday, King wrote an open letter to his readers saying he had trusted a previously “impeccable” source in saying that some in the league had seen the tape.
“The league says it has not seen the tape, and I cannot refute that with certainty,” he wrote. “No one from the league has ever knocked down my report to me, and so I was surprised to see the claim today that league officials have not seen the tape. I hope when this story is fully vetted, we all get the truth and nothing but the truth.”
But now that they clearly have seen the video, both have reacted. Goodell has suspended Rice indefinitely.
Citing the fact that Rice is no longer a current player on an NFL roster, Rutgers University told nj.com it will remove their former standout from its “Knights in the NFL” video.
Rice was admitted into PTI, a program that allows him to avoid prosecution. Successful completion of the requirements — which include anger management — could result in his record being expunged.
The case raises questions about the PTI program, Assemblywoman Gabriela Mosquera said in a statement released from her office Monday. She said the “very graphic video” makes it “all the more puzzling as to how the county prosecutor reached a decision the (PTI) was the appropriate course of discipline in this case.”
“In light of this, I think we need to re-examine our PTI law to make sure it is being applied appropriately and not misused in anyway,” she said. “At the very least, it can’t hurt to start a constructive dialogue on whether we should set parameters for who is eligible for this program, particularly when it comes to violent offenders.”
TMZ says on its site that the video from inside the elevator is a “cleaned up version of the raw surveillance elevator video” because “the raw is jerky … so we smoothed it out.”
The cleaned up version would not be the one presented in court, if the case had gone to trial.
Michael Diamondstein, who represented Rice in the case, said he couldn’t comment on the video’s release.
Revel had reportedly done an in-house investigation when the first video was leaked, but nothing was ever publicly released. With the casino now closed, a investigation into the latest release is unlikely.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
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