Calling the Ray Rice video that broke Monday on TMZ "one of the biggest stories" it has ever done in terms of traffic, a website executive said today there are more revelations to come.
"The stuff that's out there has kind of opened the door to a whole bunch of other story points such as what's going on with the NFL," Evan Rosenblum, executive producer for TMZ and TMZ Sports, said in a telephone interview.
"Did the NFL really not see the video? What kind of effort did they make to see the video? Why didn't they make a better effort to see the video?" he continued.
"It smells of a coverup," he added. "It smells of deception. There's something fishy here, and we're trying to figure out exactly what happened behind the scenes."
The video taken by a surveillance camera inside an elevator at the Revel casino in New Jersey shows Rice hitting a woman with his fist and knocking her to the floor. The woman was his then-fiancee, Janay Palmer, whom he later married and now has his last name.
As was said repeatedly by cable TV hosts Tuesday, the video "changed everything."
Just as Rice was days away from wrapping up his controversial two-game suspension from the NFL, he was abruptly cut by the Ravens and suspended indefinitely from the league.
There has been some confusion in connection with TMZ's reporting in the wake of the video as to whether or not editors at the website believe anyone from the NFL saw the videotape before it was posted Monday.
In answer to a follow-up email request seeking clarification after today's phone interview, Rosenblum wrote, "Our Revel sources are confident that someone associated with the NFL viewed the tape."
But, he added, "We do not believe that that 'someone' was Roger Goodell or any other NFL 'higher ups.'
"I know it's a bit confusing," Rosenblum acknowledged, "but we're trying to get to the bottom of it ourselves."
The NFL issued a statement saying it had not seen the video before it was published at TMZ Monday. Ravens executives have said they had not seen it prior to Monday either.
Asked why he believes TMZ got the video and the NFL didn't, Rosenblum said, "I think it's a combination: They weren't trying very hard, and we outhustled them. This is a story that's been important to us since we broke it seven months ago. We've spent our time and energy making sources in hot pursuit of what really happened that day."
Meanwhile, he says of the NFL, "They released a statement saying something like, 'The tape was never made available to us.' Well, rarely is stuff ever made available. You've got to go find it. And this guy [Rice] is a high profile guy in the NFL, he's one of the faces of NFL. With a guy like that in a case as important as this, you'd think Roger Goodell would make a better effort to find out what really happened so he could issue the proper punishment."
As to why it took so long to get the tape out, Rosenblum said, "It's been seven months, and we've been working the story consistently for seven months. And I guess, certain people just felt more comfortable revealing more of the story now rather than when it happened. It was just a matter of staying on top of it."
Did TMZ pay for the video? And if so, how much? Rosenblum was asked.
"We never talk specifically about particular footage," he said. "But our policy is we absolutely pay for video just like everybody else does. We're just honest about it."