ESPN’s Bill Simmons, one of the nation’s most prominent sports commentators, emphatically and repeatedly called NFL commissioner Roger Goodell “a liar” on his popular B.S. Report podcast Tuesday, insisting that Goodell knew about the elevator videotape of Ray Rice punching his fiancee prior to it being posted publicly on TMZ. The AP reported that a copy of the videotape was sent to the NFL’s league offices.
“It’s such fucking bullshit. It really is, it’s such fucking bullshit. For him to go on the press conference and pretend otherwise, I was so insulted,” Simmons said. “We know you are lying…”
Simmons seemed to anticipate that his comments could rankle his employer, ESPN, which is an NFL broadcast partner (but has reported that the Ravens knew of the tape shortly after the incident). “I really hope someone calls me or emails me and says I’m in trouble for anything I said about Roger Goodell because if one person says that to me, I’m going public. You leave me alone. The Commissioner is a liar and I get to say that on my podcast.”
Ultimately, whether or not Goodell knew about the videotape is a red herring. What actually occurred in the elevator, regardless of whether it was on tape, was public knowledge. When Goodell suspended Rice for just two games, he already knew that Rice struck his fiancee, rendered her unconscious, and dragged her limp body out of the elevator. Still, as Simmons notes, the NFL and the Ravens’ seem desperate to blame their inaction on their supposed lack of access to the tape rather than their own insensitivity to the seriousness of the context.