AP: NFL executive was sent copy of Ray Rice video in April

Roger Goodell will likely have to answer a few more questions about Ray Rice's suspension. (USATSI)
Roger Goodell will likely have to answer a few more questions about Ray Rice's suspension. (USATSI)

NFL commissioner Roger Goodell has insisted since Monday that the league did everything in its power to obtain the Ray Rice video before TMZ released it. However, a possible bombshell from the Associated Press suggests that the league may have had access to the video five months ago. 

According to the AP, a law enforcement official sent a copy of the Ray Rice tape to an NFL executive in April. 

It's not clear at this time who at the league office actually saw the video, but someone definitely saw it. The AP was given access to a 12-second voicemail from April 9 that confirmed the video arrived at NFL headquarters. In the voicemail, a female gives the implication that she watched the video, "You're right, it's terrible," she says. 

In a statement, the NFL denied that anyone in its office had seen or possessed the video. 

"We have no knowledge of this," the statement said. "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."

In an interview with CBS This Morning's Norah O'Donnell on Tuesday, Goodell was asked how TMZ got access to a video that the NFL couldn't obtain on its own. 

"I don't know how TMZ or any other website gets their information," Goodell said. "We are particularly reliant on law enforcement. That's the most reliable. That's the most credible. We don't seek to get that information from sources that are not credible."

In a letter sent to NFL owners Wednesday, Goodell maintained that no one in the league office had seen the video, but he also added, "It would have been illegal for law enforcement to provide [the] Rice video to [the] NFL," implying that maybe he wouldn't have looked at the video if it was illegally sent to him. 

From Goodell's letter:

"Once a criminal investigation begins, law enforcement authorities do not share investigatory material (such as the videos here) with private parties such as the NFL. In addition, the state's Open Public Records Act excludes material that is generated in the context of an active law enforcement proceeding. The law enforcement agencies did nothing wrong here; they simply followed their customary procedures. As the New Jersey Attorney General's office said yesterday, 'It would have been illegal for law enforcement to provide [the] Rice video to [the] NFL.'"

Goodell also explained why the league didn't ask the casino for the video:

"Our understanding of New Jersey law is that the casino is prohibited from turning over material to a third party during a law enforcement proceeding, and that doing so would have subjected individuals to prosecution for interference with a criminal investigation."

According to Goodell's timeline, the NFL requested the video in February and then asked for it again in May after Rice was admitted into a pretrial diversion program. 

If someone at the league's headquarters did have the video on April 9, then the NFL is going to have to figure out what the chain-of-possession was following the video's arrival. The league is also going to have determine how its own commissioner did not see the damning video, which was present in his own building. 

CBS Sports Writer

John Breech has been at CBS Sports since July 2011 and currently spends most of his time writing about the NFL. He's believed to be one of only three people in the world who thinks that Andy Dalton will... Full Bio

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