Ray Rice cut, then suspended by NFL

BALTIMORE -- Ray Rice was let go by the Ravens on Monday and suspended indefinitely by the NFL after a video was released that appears to show the running back striking his then-fiancée in February.

The grainy video, released by TMZ Sports, shows Rice and Janay Palmer in an elevator at an Atlantic City casino. Each hits the other before Rice knocks Palmer off her feet and into a railing. An earlier TMZ video showed Rice dragging Palmer, now his wife, from the elevator at the Revel casino, which closed Sept. 2.

The Associated Press reported Monday night that it had viewed a higher-quality video provided by a law enforcement official, and that Rice and Palmer could be heard shouting obscenities at each other. According to the AP, after she collapses, he drags her out of the elevator and is met by some hotel staff. One of them can be heard saying, "She's drunk, right?" And then, "No cops." Rice doesn't respond. The video, which is slightly longer than the TMZ version and includes some audio, was shown to the AP on condition of anonymity because the official isn't authorized to release it.

The Ravens said earlier Monday that they never saw the new video released by TMZ Sports. Hours later, they sent out a one-sentence statement:

"The Baltimore Ravens terminated the contract of RB Ray Rice this afternoon."

This was the first time the Ravens punished Rice and it was a unanimous decision that came after a brief meeting called by franchise owner Steve Bisciotti and involving general manager Ozzie Newsome, coach John Harbaugh and team president Dick Cass, a league source told ESPN's Ed Werder.

The source said Bisciotti first saw the video on his television and decided almost immediately that be believed the running back had to be released. He called a meeting to confer with other members of the organizational hierarchy. 

"We hadn't seen the video," the source said. "The video changes the perspective."

While Newsome was calling Rice to inform him that he was being released, Bisciotti contacted commissioner Roger Goodell to inform the league office of what was about to take place, according to the source. Harbaugh also spoke to Rice on the telephone.

The NFL also took action, saying on Twitter that "Roger Goodell has announced that based on new video evidence that became available today he has indefinitely suspended Ray Rice."

Teams were notified that any contract with Rice would not be approved or take effect until further direction is provided by Goodell, a league source told ESPN NFL Insider Adam Schefter.

The executive director of the NFL Players Association, DeMaurice Smith, told SI.com that the video is disturbing and jarring.

"The video is really all the information I've seen. I did learn on the way over to the facility about Mr. Rice being released, and have not yet talked to Roger [Goodell] about any other discipline," Smith said, according to the report. "I did hear that [Rice had been suspended], but I tend to rely on the Commissioner and learning all the facts first-hand. That's what we'll do, and once we know what those facts are, that will dictate our next steps."

Harbaugh spoke Monday night after practice and said the video "changed things." Rice had three years remaining on his contract at $4 million this season, $3 million next season and $3 million in 2016. The Ravens will not owe Rice any money.

Rice's salary-cap number lowers from $8.75 million this season to $4.75 million. Next season, Rice would still be on the Ravens' cap for $9.5 million of dead money.

The sporting goods store Modells confirmed that it has pulled Rice jerseys from its stores, while a source told ESPN.com's Darren Rovell that Dicks Sporting Goods has also pulled the running back's jerseys from its locations. 

Smyth Jewelers also announced that customers who have purchased Rice merchandise from them can return the items to one of its locations for full store credit. A donation will also be made equal to each item's purchase price to the House of Ruth Maryland to support women victims of domestic abuse and their children, Smyth said in a statement.

At Hersh's Pizza in Baltimore, those who donate Rice jerseys get free pizza and the restaurant will make a $2.70 donation to a domestic violence center for each jersey, according to ESPN.com's Darren Rovell. The restaurant collected 40 jerseys during the first four hours of the offer Monday night.

Former Raven and teammate of Rice's, Ray Lewis, said on Monday Night Countdown that his mother went through domestic abuse, so this situation is personal on many levels.

"I was really...I'm disappointed. This is personal for me," Lewis said. "I'm torn because this is a guy, a young man, that I really took up under my wing and tried to mentor to make sure that he had a successful career and stayed away from things like this. But seeing this video, let me be very clear, with going through this myself personally: A man, should never, ever put his hands on a woman. Bottom line. So we can speculate about a lot of different things. But I think what we need to make sure is very clear is what we saw in this video was actually put his hands on a woman. And that's what is personal for me."

President Barack Obama's press secretary released a statement on the president's reaction, calling the issue of domestic violence larger than the sport of football.

"The President is the father of two daughters. And like any American, he believes that domestic violence is contemptible and unacceptable in a civilized society," the statement said. "Hitting a woman is not something a real man does, and that's true whether or not an act of violence happens in the public eye, or, far too often, behind closed doors. Stopping domestic violence is something that's bigger than football -- and all of us have a responsibility to put a stop to it."

The NFL suspended Rice for two games in July for domestic violence, a punishment that at the time received widespread criticism in different circles.

"We requested from law enforcement any and all information about the incident, including the video from inside the elevator," NFL spokesman Greg Aiello said Monday morning. "That video was not made available to us and no one in our office has seen it until today."

Goodell had indicated as much on Aug. 1 during the Pro Football Hall of Fame induction weekend.

"When we're going through the process of evaluating the issue and whether there will be discipline, you look at all of the facts that you have available to us," Goodell had said. "Law enforcement normally has more ... information, facts, than we have. We'll get as much as we possibly can."

A spokesperson for the Atlantic County, New Jersey, Prosecutor's Office told ESPN's Don Van Natta on Monday: "Mr. Rice received the same treatment in the court system that any first-time offender in similar circumstances has received. We have no comment beyond that."

Rice's lawyer, Michael Diamondstein, declined to comment when contacted by The Associated Press.

Rice, 27, was charged with felony aggravated assault in the case, but in May he was accepted into a pretrial intervention program that allowed him to avoid jail time and could lead to the charge being purged from his record.

After Goodell drew criticism not being tough enough on Rice, he wrote in a letter to all 32 NFL owners in August, "My disciplinary decision led the public to question our sincerity, our commitment, and whether we understood the toll that domestic violence inflicts on so many families. I take responsibility both for the decision and for ensuring that our actions in the future properly reflect our values."

"I didn't get it right," he added. "Simply put, we have to do better. And we will."

First-time offenders now face a six-game suspension.

Rice began his suspension Sunday, when the Ravens opened their season with a 23-16 loss to the Cincinnati Bengals. He was scheduled to return after Thursday night's game against Pittsburgh. According to the terms of his suspension, Rice could not be with the team and must work out alone.

Rice hasn't spoken often to the media since his arrest, but on July 31 he called his actions "inexcusable" and said this is "something I have to live with the rest of my life."

He added: "I know that's not who I am as a man. That's not who my mom raised me to be. If anybody knows me, they know I was raised by a single parent, and that was my mother. I let her down, I let my wife down, I let my daughter down. I let my wife's parents down. I let the whole Baltimore community down. I let my teammates down. I let so many people down because of 30 seconds of my life that I know I can't take back."

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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