The NFL NEVER contacted the casino to request video of Ray Rice brutalizing his fiancee ... TMZ Sports has learned. Commissioner Roger Goodell made his disciplinary decision in the dark, which raises the question ... Is that the way he wanted it?
Sources connected with the Revel Hotel and Casino in Atlantic City tell TMZ Sports ... NO ONE from the NFL ever asked for the video inside the elevator ... video that was compelling enough to get Rice instantly fired.
Sources who worked at the casino at the time of the incident tell us ... if the NFL had asked for the video, they would have gladly complied. Former employees have told us someone with an affiliation to the NFL saw the video, but we are now certain that someone was not from Goodell's office or the core NFL executives.
Without video ... Goodell blindly justified the initial 2-game suspension, based on the only evidence they had -- from the two people in the elevator, who called it mutual combat.
Multiple sources tell TMZ Sports ... the casino made a copy of the elevator surveillance video for police. We're also told Rice's lawyer had a copy of the video, which he got in the criminal case.
An NFL source tells us they requested "any and all information" from law enforcement in the criminal case but got nothing because it was a pending case. But the NFL had other options ... namely going to the casino or Rice's lawyer -- but the NFL never bothered to ask.
BTW ... it may sound crazy for Rice's lawyer to voluntarily hand over the video, but the NFL had a lot of leverage ... in the form of severe penalties if Rice didn't ante up the tape.
So the question ... does the NFL have incompetent investigators, or was it just easier to protect a player and turn a blind eye to video that would have forced Goodell's hand? Both scenarios are pretty disgusting.