Former FBI director Robert Mueller released the findings of his NFL investigation Thursday, saying he “found no evidence that anyone at the NFL had or saw the in-elevator video” of Ray Rice hitting his now-wife “before it was publicly shown.” Mueller, however, added that the NFL could have done more to investigate the charges.
What should we make of these findings given that Mueller has essentially validated the NFL’s claims?
“I don’t know if it validates the NFL, but it validates a lot of people’s stories that they didn’t see the video tape,” NFL Network analyst Steve Wyche said on After Hours with Amy Lawrence. “But the findings also kind of told the NFL it wasn’t thorough enough in its investigation. I think it doesn’t necessarily clear anybody, but it does authenticate the fact that Roger Goodell and the head of security and a lot of people said they didn’t see the inside-the-elevator footage. I think that’s the biggest point. I think the fact that this investigation is being made public, people can see how thorough it was. So the best attempt at transparency has been made.
“There will be cynics,” Wyche continued. “There will be skeptics who say, ‘Well, what do we expect? This is the NFL. They’re not going to indict or condemn themselves.’ But I do think it is a very thorough investigation that lets the people at least know there was no kind of hanky-panky in the league trying to cover anything up. It also should have been a lot more thorough in the way it handled itself, and I’m sure that’ll be the case moving forward.”
TMZ, of course, released the Ray Rice video after Week 1 of the NFL season, and so much has happened since then. Looking back, how has climate surrounding domestic violence changed?
“Significantly on multiple fronts,” Wyche said. “From the league, you see how there’s a trust issue. A lot of people think the league wasn’t forthright in terms of how it handled this. The league has the perception of making the rules up as it goes. It took a major punch in the gut the way the league handled this investigation. Well, now you see they’ve implemented a new personal-conduct policy in which not only will domestic-violence offenders be subject to a six-game suspension (at) minimum, but (the NFL is) also offering counseling (and) guidance. The league is going to conduct its own set of investigations with independent investigators. The players union will have somebody who can help with the oversight of the investigation. I mean, they’ve put a lot in place to make sure there is trust. And for the players, I think they realize, ‘Wow, Ray Rice is a pretty popular player. Now we see how serious of an issue it is.’ Because I think a lot of us – and let’s not be hypocrites as journalists – we’ve dealt with people who have been accused of domestic violence, and I think that video brought home to all of us what domestic violence is.
“Unfortunately, we saw (the video),” Wyche continued. “But fortunately we know now this is a serious issue. And I think players and society and everybody else understands now we have a snapshot of how bad this is and our behavior towards it, especially towards the victims, I think is going to be a lot more sensitive.”