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Robert Mueller's Ray Rice/NFL report released, denies league saw elevator tape beforehand

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While the Mueller Report blamed the NFL for not conducting a thorough-enough investigation, no evidence was found that the league had access to the in-elevator tape.

Andrew Weber-USA TODAY Sports

The investigation into the NFL's handling of Ray Rice's suspension has finished.

Investigator Robert Mueller of WilmerHale has released his findings in an investigation conducted into whether the NFL handled the Rice issue accordingly. Rice, as you know, punched his now-wife Janay Rice in the face with the contents captured on a video. Before the in-elevator footage surfaced, commissioner Roger Goodell gave him a two-game suspension and a fine. Once TMZ got the extra footage, the Ravens released Rice and the NFL indefinitely suspended him.

Of course, Rice has since won an appeal for his indefinite suspension and can be signed by any team. (Don't count on that happening until the new league year begins at minimum.)

Here's the full report HERE.

The main takeaway is that the report states there's no evidence of anyone at the league office receiving the in-elevator video before TMZ released it. However, the report finds the NFL culpable to at least some degree for not gathering information properly.

"We conclude that there was substantial information about the incident that should have put the League on notice of a need to undertake a more thorough investigation to obtain available evidence of precisely what occurred inside the elevator," the report states. "Had the League done so, it may have uncovered additional information about the incident, possibly including the in-elevator video prior to its public release."

As for the Ravens, it states they were given a detailed description of what happened during the club's collection process. Though they never volunteered to pass on the information to the league office, they, as well as Rice's attorney Michael Diamondstein, both are in the report claiming they would have relayed it to the NFL if asked. The league never inquired. This report matches up with what was previously out there, that head of security Darren Sanders was told in detail of what happened in February. But everything was kept in-house. This isn't a new revelation as all parties involved with the Ravens had admitted to not preemptively sharing this information with the league office.

Essentially, there's nothing new that places new blame on the Ravens. The conclusion is that the NFL didn't do their part in thoroughly investigating the matter, which isn't necessarily new. The issue most people wanted resolved was whether the NFL had access to the tape beforehand and this report states it didn't.

So that should be that.

The last matter to be settled is Ray Rice's wrongful termination grievance against the Ravens, which is expected to be heard in mid-January.

Giants president John Mara and Steelers president Art Rooney II, who oversaw the Mueller Report, released a lengthy statement on its findings.

"On behalf of the owners of the thirty-two National Football League teams, we would like to thank Director Mueller and his staff for the work they have put into this investigation.

"Mr. Mueller’s report is detailed, extensive and thorough. His investigators reviewed millions of documents, emails and text messages. Investigators searched the computers and phones of Commissioner Goodell, senior NFL executives, people in the mailroom, and others who might have information about the in-elevator video.

"After interviewing more than two hundred people, including every woman who worked at the NFL at the time the alleged call was made acknowledging receipt of the in-elevator video, and after an exhaustive forensic search of all electronic records, the investigators found no evidence that anyone in the League received or viewed the in-elevator video prior to its release. The investigators also found no evidence of a woman at the League acknowledging receipt of the video in a voicemail message.

"The investigators also identified a "weakness" – as they call it – in the League’s longstanding practice of deferring to the criminal justice system when matters like this arise. Mr. Mueller concludes that the League should have conducted a more substantial independent investigation of this matter and he has made six recommendations. This morning, we spoke to Commissioner Goodell about these recommendations. We want to review them and understand them in greater detail. We look forward to moving forward on this.

"The report also states that the Associated Press declined to cooperate with the investigation.

"As owners, we are the first to agree that the NFL did not have a sufficient policy in place to deal with players or other personnel accused of domestic violence. As leaders of this sport, it is our responsibility to recognize the pain domestic violence causes to families in our league and in our society. We were slow to react, and in the case of Ray Rice, the original punishment was insufficient. In addition, the steps taken by the NFL to investigate this matter were inadequate. Since then, a new policy concerning domestic violence and other rules for conduct violations have been put into place. We believe these new policies are tough and appropriate.

"This matter has tarnished the reputation of the NFL due to our failure to hand out proper punishments. It has been a wake-up call to all involved and we expect the changes that have been made will lead to improvements in how any similar issues are handled in the future.

"It is clear to us that Commissioner Goodell was forthright in the statements he made to the owners about this matter, and we have every confidence that Roger Goodell is the right person to lead the league as we move forward."