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Ravens knew what was on Ray Rice tape, chose not to view it

Steve Bisciotti

The Baltimore Ravens’ decision to cut Ray Rice on Monday after video of the running back knocking out his wife emerged seems indisputably like a reactionary move to public outcry rather than an indication of their true feelings.

According to ABC, the Ravens knew the tape existed and what was on it almost immediately after the incident took place in February. They were even told to contact Rice’s lawyer to see it, but they chose not to.

From ABC News’ report:

But two sources briefed on the incident and behind-the-scenes discussions regarding the tape told ABC News that the Ravens knew that the tape existed and knew what was on the tape almost immediately after the incident.
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The Ravens team also asked the hotel for the full video, but were told by the Revel they couldn’t give it out to anyone except someone who was a party to what’s on the tape or to law enforcement, the sources said. But Revel officials told the team that Rice’s attorney had a copy and the Ravens should ask the lawyer for the tape, the sources told ABC News.

The Ravens did not ask Rice or his lawyer for a copy of the video. Instead, the Ravens and the NFL asked law enforcement for the video which declined to give it up.

What does this sound like to you? Exactly what TMZ said — the NFL and team did not want to know what was on the tape (or have the public find out) because they wanted to bury the issue.

The Ravens have a major interest in having Rice available to play for them. He’s a good player and used to be a game-changer. A light, two-game suspension for him is in their best interest as a team. A lengthier suspension reflecting the severity of his crime would have been bad for them. It actually makes plenty of sense why they wouldn’t want to know what was on it. To now turn around and feign that they were horrified by what was on the tape is a joke and poor excuse that you should not accept.

Report: Ray Rice losing support from teammates, who were told he was defending himself

Ray Rice apologyThere has already been a significant amount of backlash against Ray Rice on social media from current and former NFL players, but the Baltimore Ravens have yet to publicly address the video of Rice knocking out his wife Janay Palmer in a casino elevator. However, one report indicates Rice is losing — or has lost — the support of his teammates.

Mike Freeman of Bleacher Report says he had a text conversation with a Ravens player who said Rice’s teammates were behind him until they saw the footage that TMZ released on Monday. The player reportedly said Rice gave off the impression that he was defending himself from Palmer.

“I don’t think he has very much support now at all,” the player said. “I think it’s gone.”

[WATCH: Ray Rice punches wife Janay Palmer, knocks her out]

How TMZ somehow got its hands on the elevator footage but the Ravens nor the NFL could not do the same is beyond me. My gut instinct tells me they didn’t try very hard, for obvious reasons. Deadspin put together a solid roundup of reporters who claimed to have been told exactly what was on the video back in July, so it sounds like anyone who believed Rice was being incredibly naive.

Deadspin was also told months ago that the video proves why Rice only got a two-game suspension. In other words, an NFL player was supposedly defending himself against a small woman who was attacking him. While Monday’s video shows Palmer giving Rice a half-hearted tap in the face and going after him in the elevator, he has absolutely no excuse for reacting the way he did. Watch Jay-Z getting booted by Beyonce’s sister in an elevator and tell me the force Rice used was necessary.

Steve Smith released by Panthers; Ravens ‘favorite’ to sign him

Steve SmithAs expected, the Carolina Panthers released Steve Smith on Thursday. He is expected to draw interest from a number of teams, with Adam Schefter reporting that the Baltimore Ravens are the favorite to sign the 35-year-old veteran.

There is no doubt that Smith has lost a step. He appeared to revive his career when Cam Newton became the starting quarterback in Carolina, but he caught just 64 passes for 745 yards and four touchdowns last season. Smith is no longer a downfield threat or a No. 1 receiving option, but he can still be a possession receiver who plays with a physical attitude and isn’t afraid of contact.

Baltimore has been lacking a possession receiver since Anquan Boldin left. Many expected Torrey Smith to emerge as a legitimate No. 1 receiver last season, and you could argue that he did by eclipsing the 1,000-yard receiving mark for the first time in his career. However, Torrey is still more of a burner. Steve could help the Ravens in the middle part of the field and open up the deep ball.

Other teams who will likely kick the tires on Smith include the New York Giants, Denver Broncos, Tampa Bay Buccaneers and New England Patriots. At this point, it may come down to which team believes Smith’s performance on the field will outweigh his outspoken attitude, which wore out its welcome in Carolina. No team should expect fireworks on the field.

Jacoby Jones reportedly hit with bottle by stripper during Ravens party bus brawl

Jacoby-JonesBaltimore Ravens offensive tackle Bryant McKinnie turned34 on Monday. He and his teammates reportedly went out partying in Washington, D.C. on Sunday to celebrate McKinnie’s birthday after their victory over the Houston Texans. Toward the end of the night, things are said to have gotten out of hand when a brawl broke out.

According to TMZ, some of the Ravens players were involved in a fight on a party bus at about 3 a.m. People allegedly began fighting on the bus after leaving the Opera Ultra Lounge. Sources told TMZ that at least one stripper, named Sweet Pea, was on board the bus. Yes, that information is relevant, as she supposedly clocked Jacoby Jones with a bottle.

One eyewitness tells us he saw a bottle being swung at Jacoby Jones — it connected with his head and hurt him.  We’re told an ambulance was called ‘for a bleeding male’ but he was not taken to the hospital.

Our sources say a stripper named Sweet Pea is the one who hit Jacoby with a gigantic Ace of Spades bottle and this may have triggered the brawl.  We’re told the bottle smashed over his head and he was ‘bleeding everywhere.'”

The story goes on to claim that Jones’ friends tried to retaliate against the stripper and that McKinnie stepped in and stopped them. McKinnie then reportedly got into a fight with one of Jacoby’s friends. Police were called to the scene and no arrests were made.

What a mess. The Ravens will likely have to address the situation at some point, especially since it sounds like several members of the team were involved. Jones is already dealing with a knee injury because of this embarrassing punt return mishap, so the team can only hope he didn’t suffer serious injuries when Sweet Pea allegedly clocked him. It sounds like the Ravens are fortunate no arrests were made.

Cameras capture officials patting down Baltimore Ravens before game

Ravens-players-pat-down

There are a lot of things that go on behind the scenes of an NFL game that we never get to see. On Thursday night before the NFL season opener between the Baltimore Ravens and Denver Broncos, we saw an interesting example of that when cameras captured the referees patting down Ravens players.

In a video that can be seen over at Deadspin, an official is shown counting the players who walk by and checking every X player. While this seemed bizarre to us because it is a moment that is rarely — if ever — captured on camera, it is apparently common practice.

“Officials are checking random uniforms for any illegal substances,” FOX Sports rule analyst Mike Pereira wrote on Twitter. “They check random players on both teams before the game and at halftime. Foreign substances can be grease or silicone. Players used to do it to make themselves harder to grab and/or make it easier to catch the football with stickem. This has been standard practice for years in the NFL.”

Pereira added that punishment would include confiscation of the uniform by NFL security and discipline from the league if a player was found to have an illegal substance on his body.

Who knew? Again, this is something the players are used to and has been going on for a while. But it was still interesting to see that they’re subject to the same type of pat downs before taking the field that we’re subject to before entering the stadium. God bless technology for sharing this useless piece of information with us.

Ravens billboards put up around Denver to promote NFL season opener

Joe-Flacco-Top-Five-QuarterbackThe Denver Broncos and Baltimore Ravens are set to kick off the 2013 NFL season next Thursday in a game that will be nationally televised on NBC. As a way of promoting both teams and hyping up the first official game of the year, the NFL has put up signs and billboards around Sports Authority Field and downtown Denver that feature Ravens players in addition to Broncos players.

Makes sense, right? The only issue is that Broncos fans still have a heartbreaking loss to the Ravens in the 2012 playoffs fresh on their minds. Baltimore stunned Denver with an amazing comeback that included a 70-yard touchdown pass from Joe Flacco to Jacoby Jones with 31 seconds remaining in regulation. Now, Broncos fans have to look at Flacco’s face while they’re walking around town:

Since the promotions are a mandate from the league, there is nothing the Broncos can do about it. However, Mike Klis of The Denver Post pointed out that the team did try to explain itself via its official Twitter account:

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Bernard Pollard keeps Baltimore Ravens termination notice taped to his locker

Bernard Pollard RavensBernard Pollard spent two quality seasons with the Baltimore Ravens in 2011 and 2012, but what’s that phrase we hear 13 times a day after the NFL season ends? Oh yeah, “football is a business.”

The Ravens cut Pollard in March in order to clear cap space so they could afford players like Joe Flacco. Baltimore fans were surprised to see their team release him after Pollard laid a massive hit on New England Patriots running back Stevan Ridley that sealed the AFC Championship. Pollard is using the move as motivation now that he has begun a new chapter with the Tennessee Titans.

As Shutdown Corner pointed out, the notice informed Pollard he had been cut due to “skill or performance” reasons. The 28-year-old shouldn’t be offended given the way the Ravens cleaned house after winning the Super Bowl, but there’s nothing wrong with using it as motivation. If it helps him play with more energy, I’m sure his Titans teammates will embrace it.