The Baltimore Ravens issued a lengthy denial of an ESPN article by Don Van Natta Jr. and Kevin Van Valkenburg that suggested the team was aware of the full extent of the Ray Rice elevator video back in February.
One of the article’s most damning claims is that Ravens owner Steve Bisciotti and Rice had a text message exchange in which Bisciotti offered Rice a job in the future as a quid pro quo. That article said Rice believed the job offer came with the understanding that he would keep quiet about what the Ravens knew regarding the video showing the football player knocking out his then-fiancée.
The ESPN report said, “A few days later, after thinking about it more, Rice told friends he believed Bisciotti was suggesting that, as long as he kept quiet and stuck to the story that he had misled team officials and Goodell about what had happened in the elevator, the Ravens would take care of him down the road.”
In a statement Monday, Bisciotti published a transcript of the texts.
Rice initiated the first exchange a few hours after the team cut him on Sept. 8 at 7:44 p.m. eastern:
Ray: I understand the decision but I am thankful for what you have done for me and my family. Me and my wife will continue to work on us and being better but I just wanted to say thank you for giving me a chance
Steve: I’m sorry we had to do this. I still love you and believe that you will be a great husband and father If you ever need to talk just call
The second exchange came the next day, and appears to have been initiated by Bisciotti. Here’s where he tells Rice he’ll hire him down the line:
Steve: I just spent two hours talking to Ozzie. It was all about you. We love you and we will always figure out a way to keep you in our lives. When you are done with football I will hire you to help me raise Great young men. I still love you!!!
Ray: I know it’s a rough time for all of us I love all of you and that will never change for life!
Steve: I will help you make it a great life indeed. I give you my WORD
Ray: That means the world to me and my family we greatly appreciate you and thank you.
This is slightly different than the texts quoted in the ESPN article.
Here’s how ESPN described the texts, which they got from one of Rice’s friends:
“Minutes later, Rice’s phone buzzed. He could scarcely believe what he was looking at– back-to-back text messages from Bisciotti. Rice read them aloud so everyone in the room could hear them:
“‘Hey Ray, just want to let you know, we loved you as a player, it was great having you here. Hopefully all these things are going to die down. I wish the best for you and Janay.’
“‘When you’re done with football, I’d like you to know you have a job waiting for you with the Ravens helping young guys getting acclimated to the league.’
“Rice was flabbergasted. One minute Bisciotti and the Ravens were essentially calling him a liar, the next Bisciotti was quietly offering him a job?”
Bisciotti says the text with the supposed job offer read, “When you are done with football I will hire you to help me raise Great young men.”
ESPN (via Rice’s friend) says the text read, “‘When you’re done with football, I’d like you to know you have a job waiting for you with the Ravens helping young guys getting acclimated to the league.”
The ESPN version is slightly more explicit.
Bisciotti said in a statement that the job was not a bribe to keep Rice quiet.
“I cannot believe that Ray ever thought I was suggesting he keep quiet, when he got the texts or later on,” Bisciotti said in his statement. “They were not an insult. To the contrary, I think he knew these were messages from the heart, as were his responses to me. I wear my heart on my sleeve. Everyone knows that, including Ray.”
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