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Ex-FBI director to investigate Ray Rice case

AP reports NFL executive received a copy of in-elevator video in April

Ed Payne and Steve Almasy | 9/11/2014, 2:30 p.m.
Nothing less than the NFL's reputation is on the line, and possibly the job of the league's commissioner, Roger Goodell.
Ray Rice, the Baltimore Ravens running back suspended by the NFL for two games after video showed him dragging his then-fiancée (now his wife) from an elevator, told reporters on Thursday, July 31, 2014 his actions were "inexcusable." (CNN)

— Nothing less than the NFL's reputation is on the line, and possibly the job of the league's commissioner, Roger Goodell.

A bombshell video shows Ray Rice knocking out his now-wife on a casino elevator. Another shows him dragging her off.

What we don't know for certain is what the NFL knew about the incident and when the league knew it.

There are conflicting stories. Critics want answers. Some want Goodell's head.

The NFL announced late Wednesday that former FBI Director Robert Mueller will lead an independent inquiry into the league's investigation and how it gathered evidence in the case.

Mueller will have access to all NFL records, according to league spokesman Greg Aiello. Two NFL owners who are attorneys -- John Mara of the New York Giants and Art Rooney II of the Pittsburgh Steelers -- will oversee the independent probe.

Mueller was director of the FBI from 2001 to 2013.

Appointment not enough

If the league was looking to stem the tide of criticism, it didn't work.

The National Organization for Women called Mueller's appointment "just window dressing," saying it doesn't go far enough.

"NOW continues to ask for Roger Goodell to resign, and for his successor to appoint an independent investigator with full authority to gather factual data about domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault and stalking within the entire NFL community - not just regarding the Ray Rice incident - and to recommend real and lasting reforms," said Terry O'Neill, president of the National Organization for Women.

"The NFL does not just have a Ray Rice problem, they have a violence against women problem."

Rice, who was released Monday by the Baltimore Ravens, and his then-fiancee, Janay Palmer, got into an altercation on an elevator in the casino in Atlantic City on February 15. Rice knocked her out with a punch to the head then dragged her -- face down -- out of the elevator.

TMZ Sports obtained two videos from the footage taken from surveillance cameras that night. It posted the first one, which showed Rice dragging his then-fiancee out of the elevator, in February. The in-elevator video showing the violent punch was put online Monday.

Ravens owner looks back

It was that second video that changed Ravens owner Steve Bisciotti's perception of the incident.

Bisciotti, who told CNN affiliate WBAL that he never spoke with Rice, said he didn't realize the blow that knocked Janay Rice out was so forceful.

"The way it was described to us was that he had hit her with an open hand and that she had hit her head (as she fell)," Bisciotti told WBAL.

He told the station that the way he pictured it in his mind Janay Rice was "wailing" on her then-fiance when he slapped her and she was close to the wall and hit her head, knocking her out.

"So why did I conclude all of that? Because I wanted to, because I loved him, because he had a stellar record," Bisciotti said. He added his thinking was also shaped by the fact that police only arrested the couple for misdemeanors.