After four months of investigation, former FBI Director Robert S. Mueller III released his report on the NFL's handling of the Ray Rice incident this week. Leaked security footage taken from security cameras at the Revel Casino in Atlantic City showed Rice involved in a physical altercation with then-fiance, now-wife Janay. Rice hits Janay and knocks her unconscious and then attempts to drag her out of the elevator. It is this graphic video that has made the former Baltimore Ravens running back the public face of the violence that is plaguing the NFL off the field.
The NFL requested Mueller look particularly at two claims — whether the league had seen the infamous security footage at the Revel Casino before it leaked and how much information the league gathered when investigating the incident. Mueller concludes that the NFL could've done a whole lot more, even if they never saw the footage.
We concluded there was substantial information about the incident — even without the in-elevator video —indicating the need for a more thorough investigation. The NFL should have done more with the information it had, and should have taken additional steps to obtain all available information about the February 15 incident.
Mueller encouraged training and oversight of NFL investigators as well as the creation of an entire team to look into domestic violence and sexual assault cases, echoing their prevalence. The NFL has a domestic violence problem that appears to have more and more players investigated with each passing playoff round.
The New Orleans Saints' Junior Galette was arrested just this week for allegedly pushing a woman and injuring her when trying to kick her out of his home with cousin Terrance Banks Jr. His charge of simple battery has made headlines around the country. And just last month, the San Francisco 49ers responded to allegations of domestic violence against Ray McDonald by releasing the defensive end from the team.
The decision came more than four months after McDonald had been arrested. Major criticism has been lobbed against the team for allowed him to play during the regular season, but get rid of him when they didn't make the post-season. In a column published in the San Jose Mercury, McDonald's active status was noted as an anomaly:
McDonald was arrested on suspicion of domestic violence at his home on Aug. 31 and the 49ers did not suspend him, saying they wanted to let "due process" play out before taking any action — even though Baltimore running back Ray Rice was serving a two-week suspension at the time for his domestic violence charge (a punishment later increased to an indefinite suspension) and 29 other NFL players were serving suspensions, most for performance-enhancing substance abuse but one for intoxication/manslaughter as well as several that were listed as "undetermined."
The investigation is ongoing in San Jose, the city where McDonald lives and where he was arrested in his own home. The NFL's updated personal conduct policy would've forced a suspension of McDonald until the league could do its own investigating. The latest case to make it to court involves Arizona Cardinals running back Jonathan Dwyer, who stand trial in March over assault allegations. Dwyer is accused of allegedly assaulting his wife in multiple arguments.
Despite the off-season issues, the NFL has seen their viewership decline only 2.1 percent. The playoff game between the Green Bay Packers and the Dallas Cowboys has already sold out, prompting the release of 300 standing room only tickets. If those numbers are any indication, it seems that in the case of the NFL's domestic violence and assault issues, fans have been just as silent as players depicted in NO MORE's "Speechless" PSA series.