An extensive investigation carried out by Don Van Natta Jr. and Kevin Van Valkenburg has uncovered damning evidence that suggests “a pattern of misinformation and misdirection employed by the Ravens and the NFL” in the aftermath of the February incident between Ray Rice and his then-fiancée Janay in the Revel Hotel Casino elevator.

Referring to their interviews with over 20 sources, Van Natta and Van Valkenburg say that these conversations “paint a picture of a league and a franchise whose actions -- and inaction -- combined to conceal -- or ignore -- the graphic violence of Rice's assault.” Unsurprisingly, neither Rice nor any of the other central figures involved in the story were able to comment.

The report indicates that coach John Harbaugh immediately urged the Ravens to cut Rice after his February 15 arrest, but the coach was overruled by management and ownership. As everyone knows, Rice then stayed on with the team and reported to training camp as if nothing was wrong.

Perhaps the most damaging part of the story—or at least, what flies most in the face of the NFL and Ravens’ version of events—is the fact that Rice’s own lawyer obtained the inside-elevator footage on April 1 and shared his impression of what he saw with the team. The Ravens and NFL never asked for a copy of the video, seemingly content to go with willful ignorance and instead suggesting a strategy that would involve the video never becoming public.

Even the Ravens, it seems, thought Roger Goodell had seen the inside-elevator footage when they went into their disciplinary meeting with him on June 16. Multiple sources also dispute Goodell’s claim that Ray Rice’s version of events in that meeting was “ambiguous,” saying that what Rice said  was exactly what the world saw on video.

So, does this change anything? Probably not, unless of course you actually believed that the Ravens and NFL were always being sincere. But the amount of blatant missteps that went on here should at least be enough to make you rethink how you look at the NFL and those involved in running it.

UPDATE: Naturally, the Ravens are now denying all wrongdoing:

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[via Outside the Lines]