Coach: Video wasn't available before

ByJamison Hensley ESPN logo
Tuesday, September 9, 2014

OWINGS MILLS, Md. --Baltimore Ravens coach John Harbaugh said the decision to release Ray Ricecame after the team's decision-makers watched the video of the former Pro Bowl running back striking his then-fiancee Janay Palmer for the first time Monday.

"It changed things of course," Harbaugh told a large gathering of reporters after Monday night's practice. "It made things a little bit different."

In addition to being cut by the Ravens, Rice was suspended indefinitely by the NFL after a grainy video was released by TMZ Sports that shows each hitting the other before Rice knocks Palmer off her feet and into a railing. An earlier TMZ video had showed Rice dragging Palmer, now his wife, from the elevator at the Revel casino, which closed Sept. 2.

The Associated Press reported Monday night that it had viewed a higher-quality video provided by a law enforcement official, and that Rice and Palmer could be heard shouting obscenities at each other. According to the AP, after she collapses, he drags her out of the elevator and is met by some hotel staff. One of them can be heard saying, "She's drunk, right?" And then, "No cops." Rice doesn't respond. The video, which is slightly longer than the TMZ version and includes some audio, was shown to the AP on condition of anonymity because the official isn't authorized to release it.

The Ravens reached their decision in a quick meeting between Harbaugh, owner Steve Bisciotti, general manager Ozzie Newsome and team president Dick Cass, according to Harbaugh.

Asked why the team wasn't able to view the video released by TMZ Sports sooner, Harbaugh said, "I don't know why that would be a hard thing to understand. It wasn't available. It wasn't there for us. It wasn't something that we ever saw or had access to."

Harbaugh and Newsome both spoke to Rice after announcing his release, but the coach declined to go into details about the conversation. In the seven months since the incident in Atlantic City, Harbaugh has been among the vocal supporters of Rice. Despite releasing Rice, Harbaugh said the team isn't abandoning him.

"Everything I said in terms of what I believe, I stand by. I believe that still," Harbaugh said. "I'll always believe those things and we'll always stand in support of them as a couple. That's not going to change."

Harbaugh added, "When somebody that you care about does wrong and is faced with the consequences of doing wrong and rightfully so, it is tough, it is hurtful. My pain is for both of them as a couple. Going forward, my hope is that they can make it work. From everything that I understand in talking to Ray up until his suspension -- talking to him a lot -- it seemed like they were working hard and they were really doing well. I hope they can weather this part of it, too. I'll be praying for them. If my wife and I can help in any way, we will. That's where it's at."

Wide receiver Torrey Smith, one of Rice's closest friends on the team, said everyone on the team was stunned by the video.

"As bad it is, I still got to stick there for him as a person, not his actions at all," Smith said. "We're all disappointed by that. It was probably a little more than what we expected. It was tough what he did. You can't say the punishment doesn't fit the bill."

Defensive end Chris Canty, who said he's experienced domestic violence in his life, got teary-eyed when talking about the Rice incident with reporters.

"It was a deplorable act. He made a terrible error in judgment," Canty said. "It's all very sad. It's all very sad."

The Ravens already stripped the nameplate above Rice's locker and removed his helmet, jersey and other personal items.

Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.

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