OTL Report: John Harbaugh Wanted to Cut Ray Rice Immediately, Was Overruled By Ozzie Newsome


ESPN’s Outside the Lines dropped another nuclear bomb on the Baltimore Ravens and the NFL. These were some of the findings from reporters Don Van Natta Jr. and Kevin Van Valkenburg that were damning to the Ravens:

– Head of security Darren Sanders knew within hours of the incident that it was really bad; an Atlantic City police officer had described the surveillance video from inside the elevator to him over the phone.

– In April, Rice’s attorney Michael J. Diamondstein — who propagated a “theoretical situation” that Rice was acting in self-defense — allegedly told Ravens president Dick Cass that the surveillance tape was “f—ing horrible” and that it was apparent “Ray knocked her the f— out.”

– John Harbaugh and director of player personnel George Kokinis wanted to cut Rice; they were overruled by Cass, general manager Ozzie Newsome and owner Steve Bisciotti:

"But after Ravens offensive lineman Jah Reid was arrested March 8 in Key West, Florida, and charged with two counts of battery for his role in a bar fight, Harbaugh, according to several sources, again went to Newsome and advocated that the three Ravens players arrested in the offseason — Rice, Reid and wide receiver Deonte Thompson — be released. Newsome, according to what Rice was told, bristled at the recommendation, saying he was the decision-maker in the matter, not Harbaugh, and he believed in second chances. Newsome believed if the team had weathered the controversy in 2000 when All-Pro linebacker Ray Lewis was charged in a double homicide after a Super Bowl party in Atlanta, and had endured the criticism after running back Jamal Lewis’ guilty plea to cocaine trafficking in 2004, it could certainly weather the controversy surrounding this trio of arrests, too."

– Steve Bisciotti, Dick Cass and Ozzie Newsome went on a public and private full-court press for leniency for Rice, with both the judicial system and the NFL. Rice’s longstanding history of community service was, by all accounts, genuinely appreciated by the team administration, and the reason they would fight so hard for a running back that averaged 3.1 yards per carry last season.

– Newsome and Cass escorted Rice to New York for his meeting with Goodell, and according to OTL, the running back was advised by several executives to tell the complete truth because the Ravens believed that Goodell had seen the inside-the-elevator video, and they knew the penalty would be made worse if Rice was caught in a lie.

"With his wife sitting by his side in a conference room, Rice told Goodell that he hit her and knocked her out, according to four sources. Cass and Newsome spoke on Rice’s behalf. So did Janay, who emotionally asked Goodell not to impose a penalty on Rice that would take away their livelihood and besmirch his name."

– Steve Bisciotti, who implied that Ray Rice misled him about what happened in the incident, allegedly sent the following text — supported by screengrab — to Rice on the day he was cut:

"Hey Ray, just want to let you know, we loved you as a player, it was great having you here. Hopefully all these things are going to die down. I wish the best for you and Janay. When you’re done with football, I’d like you to know you have a job waiting for you with the Ravens helping young guys getting acclimated to the league."

Rice reportedly felt that the text amounted to a promise that if he kept quiet about what team officials knew and when that he would be taken care of down the road.