(Reuters) - The owner of the National Football League’s Baltimore Ravens on Monday apologized for not demanding the graphic video of former star running back Ray Rice striking his then-fiance, saying it “never crossed my mind” and he was “deeply sorry.”
Stephen Bisciotti offered the mea culpa at a news conference the team had called in response to address an ESPN investigative story that alleged the team had advocated for lenient punishment for Rice and knew about the contents of the video early on.
“There is no excuse for me to have not demanded that video except I wasn’t concerned or interested enough to demand it, never crossed my mind,” said Bisciotti, 54, in a rare question and answer session with the media.
“I’m sorry for that, deeply sorry for that.”
The NFL, America’s most popular sports league, has been engulfed in a crisis for its bungled handling of Rice’s case and a spate of domestic violence and abuse cases involving other players.
At issue is how the league initially suspended Rice for two games for punching Janay Palmer, the fiancée he later married, in an Atlantic City, New Jersey, casino elevator but reversed course when a video was published showing the punch that knocked out Palmer.
“If it would have crossed my mind, I would have demanded it (the video),” Bisciotti said. “If I had demanded it, I would’ve gotten it, and if I would’ve gotten it, I would have forwarded it to the NFL.”
Rice, a star player and fan favorite, was cut by the team and suspended indefinitely by the league after the video was released. He is appealing the suspension.
The league’s uneven response to Rice has called into question the credibility and integrity of the NFL and its commissioner, Roger Goodell, one of the most powerful figures in sports.
Bisciotti also denied the allegation in the ESPN news story that he promised a future job to Rice in exchange for Rice’s silence over the team’s handling of his domestic violence case.
Last week, Goodell said the league would look to outside experts to help it craft new personal conduct penalties.
Minnesota Vikings star running back Adrian Peterson has been suspended indefinitely with pay after a child abuse indictment.
Carolina Panthers defensive end Greg Hardy and Arizona Cardinals running back Jonathan Dwyer have also been suspended while their domestic violence cases move through court. San Francisco 49ers defensive end Ray McDonald continues to play pending possible domestic violence charges.
Editing by Mary Milliken and Doina Chiacu