(Reuters) - The security chief for the National Football League said on Thursday he never received the video of former Baltimore Ravens star Ray Rice punching his fiancée, after a news report said it had been sent directly to him in April.
“I unequivocally deny that I received at any time a copy of the video and I had not watched it until it was made public on September 8,” Jeffrey Miller said in a statement.
Miller was responding to an Associated Press report on Thursday quoting an unnamed law enforcement source who said the video had been addressed to Miller. Two weeks ago, that same source had said he sent the package to the NFL, but did not allow the AP to report who he addressed it to.
The report could complicate matters for the NFL as it struggles to regain its credibility for its handling of the Rice case and four other domestic abuse incidents, amounting to one of the biggest scandals in America’s most-popular sports league.
The elevator security video of Rice knocking his now-wife Janay Rice unconscious surfaced on TMZ.com on Sept. 8, prompting NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell to indefinitely suspend Rice from the league after initially giving him a lighter punishment of a two-game suspension for the domestic violence incident.
Goodell has said he had not seen the video either until it became public, but he called an independent investigation into how the NFL handled the Rice case after the first AP report two weeks ago.
The release of the Rice video unleashed a wave of criticism against the NFL from sponsors, fans, commentators and women’s groups and raised questions about Goodell’s leadership and why the NFL wasn’t able to obtain the clip before TMZ.
Before handing down the two-game ban to Rice, Goodell had seen an earlier video showing Rice dragging his unconscious fiancée from the elevator.
Goodell has apologized for his initial lighter punishment and has increased the ban on players who commit domestic violence to a minimum of six games.
Reporting by Mary Milliken in Los Angeles; Editing by Eric Beech