In a development that could have a devastating effect on NFL management, the Associated Press is reporting the league was provided a copy of the Ray Rice elevator tape in April -- even though NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell has insisted no one at the NFL saw the video until this week.
According to the AP, a law enforcement official says he sent a video of Rice, the former Baltimore Ravens running back, punching his then-fiancee to an NFL executive five months ago. League officers have insisted they didn't see the violent images until this week.
The report says the person played the AP a 12-second voice mail from an NFL office number on April 9 confirming the video arrived, and that a female voice expresses thanks and says: "You're right. It's terrible."
According to the AP's anonymous source, the NFL never followed up.
"We have no knowledge of this," NFL spokesman Brian McCarthy said Wednesday. "We are not aware of anyone in our office who possessed or saw the video before it was made public on Monday. We will look into it."
The AP said the person could not confirm if anyone at the NFL watched the video. The person said he shared the video — which he was unauthorized to release — because he wanted the NFL to have it before deciding on Rice's punishment, the AP said.
Asked Tuesday about the league's efforts to obtain the video, Goodell said in a CBS interview: "We assumed that there was a video. We asked for video. But we were never granted that opportunity."