When the coach of the Baltimore Ravens mentions four times in three minutes that Monday was the first time anyone had seen the video (via TMZ) of Ray Rice punching his wife – and then the announcing and studio crews on two Monday Night Football games repeat the talking point a few dozen times for emphasis – it sounds defensive and strongly implies that they're trying to establish a narrative of new information to conceal the fact that they likely saw the video months ago.
Sports Illustrated's Peter King reported months ago that the elevator camera footage was in the league's possession before backpedaling on that Monday in what appears to be a bizarre attempt to throw himself on a grenade and assist the league with damage control. This whole situation smacks of exactly what it is: a group of people attempting to create the impression of swift, decisive action when in reality they were aware of this months ago but were content to hush it up. Until they couldn't. When the police reports reveal that the hotel turned over all surveillance footage including this "new" video months ago, the flimsy story will collapse.
The more I thought about this on Monday, the less sense it makes that the video would somehow have changed the way the league and team viewed the situation. It was already common knowledge that Rice punched the woman, basically knocked her out, and dragged her out of the elevator by her hair. Were they somehow shocked to learn what "punching" is? Had they never seen punching before they allegedly discovered this clip on Monday? I realize that there is a difference in the way we process a video and a written description of an event, but in this instance a supposedly thorough investigation was done to establish what happened. Both parties and the investigators agreed on certain aspects of the story, including that Rice knocked her out with a punch. Irrespective of the video, this is not new information.
Maybe, if we try to assume the best intentions on the part of the decision-makers, the full weight of what he did only registered upon seeing the video. That's not a particularly good explanation for inaction, but it is an explanation. Instead the powers that be (the police will end up taking heat on this as well when the NFL throws them under the bus) are playing dumb about what has been standard operating procedure: do nothing or close to it until the negative attention reaches a critical mass, then play Knight in Shining Armor by creating the appearance of a swift, stern response that easily could have – and should have – been handed down months ago.
That's weak, guys. Weak.