Ex-FBI Director Will Probe NFL’s Handling of Ray Rice

Former FBI Director Robert Mueller, who grew up in the Philadelphia suburbs, will lead an independent investigation into the NFL.

Just hours after the AP reported a police source had previously sent the NFL a tape of Ray Rice knocking his future wife unconscious with a punch, the NFL announced former FBI director Robert Mueller will investigate what the NFL knew about the incident.

Rice was originally suspended two games for the February assault of Janay Palmer, now Janay Rice, at Revel in Atlantic City. There was an outcry over the short suspension — Wes Welker got a suspension twice as long for taking amphetamines at the Kentucky Derby — but it appeared the event had blown over for the NFL (and for Rice, who had his charges dismissed as part of pre-trial intervention).

But earlier this week TMZ released a graphic video of Rice punching his now-wife Janay, and the NFL finally acted more strongly: The Ravens cut Rice, and the NFL suspended him indefinitely. The NFL claimed it had not seen the video, but a law enforcement source played for the Associated Press an April 9th voicemail that confirmed the receipt of the Ray Rice tape. “You’re right. It’s terrible,” the caller in the voicemail said.

The NFL still says it never received the tape. “We have no knowledge of this,” an NFL 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.”

Giants owner John Mara and Steelers owner Art Rooney will oversee the NFL’s investigation of how it handled the aftermath of Rice’s assault. Robert Mueller, who will oversee the independent investigation, led the FBI from September 2001 to September 2013. He grew up in the Philadelphia suburbs.

There is no timeframe for the investigation currently.