Hines Ward says he's blown away by Roger Goodell -- telling TMZ Sports he's SHOCKED that with all of the NFL's resources, the Commish says he couldn't get his hands on the elevator tape.
"When you're the NFL and you've got a bunch of FBI [agents], I'm pretty sure they could have got their hands on that tape before they made a ruling."
The former Pittsburgh Steelers superstar -- who's now an NFL commentator on NBC -- says Goodell MUST be held responsible for embarrassing the league ... noting, "He dropped the ball on this one."
As for the Ravens, Ward says the team could be in even more trouble on the field when they face his old team tonight ... check out the clip.
NBA Star Paul George
For Stupid Ray Rice Tweet
9/11/2014 6:41 AM PDT BY TMZ STAFF
10:47 AM PT -- Larry Bird (President of the Pacers) just ripped George over the comments ... saying, "Paul George's tweets from earlier were thoughtless and without regard to the subject of domestic violence and its seriousness in society."
Paul George's leg must be okay ... 'cause he's backpedaling HARD after tweeting out some STUPID comments about the Ray Rice situation.
The Indiana Pacers star came under fire IMMEDIATELY after writing, "I don't condone hittin women or think it's coo BUT if SHE ain't trippin then I ain't trippin.. Lets keep it movin lol let that man play!"
Then it got worse ... with George writing, "If you in a relationship and a woman hit you first and attacking YOU.. Then you obviously ain't beatin HER. Homie made A bad choice! #StayUp"
Were you even watching the same tape?? It wasn't exactly self defense, dude.
Didn't take long for George to realize he screwed up -- and less than an hour later, tweeted, "Let me apologize to the women and to the VICTIMS of domestic violence people my intent was not to downplay the situation."
I Blame Liquor For Attack
I've Sworn Off Hard Liquor
9/11/2014 1:00 AM PDT BY TMZ STAFF
Ray Rice says hard liquor was the fuel that triggered his elevator rage and he hasn't touched the stuff in months ... sources close to Rice tell TMZ Sports.
Rice told the Baltimore Ravens he and Janay Palmer had been drinking HEAVILY before the altercation. Rice is telling friends he becomes a different person when he boozes it up ... so he's changed his life.
But he hasn't changed that much, because we're told he still drinks wine ... just not hard liquor.
Our sources say Ray and his wife have gotten deep into religion since the February incident -- they were both baptized in March when they decided to become Born again Christians.
We're also told they've also done religious mentoring with other couples ... including NFL players and their wives.
As for Ray, he issued a statement Tuesday saying he's trying to "work through this" -- noting, "We have a lot of people praying for us."
Hunt Is On
For 1st Ray Rice Interview
9/11/2014 6:16 AM PDT BY TMZ STAFF
Matt Lauer knows ... the first morning show to interview Ray Rice WINS -- and that's why the "Today" show ... and everyone else in morning TV is officially in on the chase to lock down the NFL star.
Matt played coy when we asked if he had already reached out to Rice -- but the answer was written all over his face.
He also explained, "Ray Rice has a story to tell that he wants to get out there." It's clear, Lauer wants to be the one to help him tell that story.
"I think anybody who does what I do for a living would wanna sit down with either of them [Ray and Roger Goodell] and Janay as well."
Ray has texted back and forth with some ESPN reporters over the past few days -- but it's unclear if he's committed to an on-camera interview ... yet.
Ray Rice Scandal
Ex-FBI Honcho to Probe NFL's Actions
9/10/2014 8:35 PM PDT BY TMZ STAFF
The NFL has appointed former FBI Director Robert Mueller to run an investigation into how the league handled evidence in the Ray Rice domestic violence case.
NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell announced Mueller's probe will be overseen by Giants owner John Mara and Steelers owner Art Rooney. Goodell says Mueller will have access to all NFL records.
The announcement came hours after a league source told us ... "no one" at the NFL's various offices had received the video of Ray Rice punching his wife -- refuting an AP story that said a league exec was sent the clip back in April.
Goodell has maintained he never saw the video before TMZ Sports posted it on Monday.
AP Story Wrong
NO ONE Here Saw Video Before Monday
9/10/2014 4:28 PM PDT BY TMZ STAFF
A high-ranking NFL source tells TMZ ... "No one at the league" saw the Ray Rice elevator video until TMZ Sports posted it Monday.
The Associated Press claims someone from law enforcement sent a DVD of the video to an NFL exec in April ... months before Roger Goodell handed down the 2-game suspension.
Up to now ... the NFL has hedged, saying to their knowledge no one in the organization got the tape. But now an NFL source tells us in no uncertain terms ... no one at the league got it. And the source goes on to define the league as 3 things -- NFL headquarters, NFL Films in New Jersey and the NFL Network in L.A.
The source goes on to say the NFL headquarters has around 475 employees at its NYC headquarters, and "no one at these 3 offices saw it."
TMZ Sports is NOT vouching for the NFL's position. We're merely telling you what they're saying.
He's DEAD WRONG
Casino NOT Prohibited from Turning Over Video
9/10/2014 2:07 PM PDT BY TMZ STAFF
Roger Goodell made a very bad assumption when he chose not to contact the casino to request a copy of the Ray Rice elevator video -- because law enforcement tells TMZ Sports ... that would have been perfectly legal.
Goodell said Tuesday he did not contact the Revel Casino because it was his understanding "the casino is prohibited from turning over material to a third party during a law enforcement proceeding" -- namely the criminal case against Rice.
But Paul Loriquet, the Director of Communications for the New Jersey Attorney General, tells TMZ bluntly, "No, it's not illegal."
To be clear ... our question was very specific: "Is it illegal for the casino to show or provide this material to a private entity in an ongoing investigation." His answer, "No, it's not illegal."
Mind you ... the NFL has some of the best lawyers in the country. It's inconceivable they didn't do basic legal research to either validate or invalidate Goodell's assumptions.
TMZ broke the story ... Goodell NEVER even bothered to ask the casino for the video -- something he's now acknowledged.
SORRY FOR RAY RICE COMMENTS
'I Hadn't Seen Video'
9/10/2014 2:03 PM PDT BY TMZ STAFF
Floyd Mayweather claims he hadn't seen the new elevator footage of Ray Rice before he went after the NFL for not sticking by their 2 game suspension ... and now he's apologizing to the league.
"I was just getting word from people that there was a video out there. I didn't know because I'm training for a fight," Mayweather said.
"If I offended anyone, I apologize."
Just one problem ... when he made his original comments, Floyd said he HAD seen the video.
Mayweather had ripped the NFL for changing Rice's 2-game suspension to an indefinite one once the new video came to light. He claimed the league should have stuck to it's original ruling.
Besides the comments about the NFL, Mayweather had also said that Ray was not the worst wife-beater in the country ... his incident just happened to be caught on tape.
Mayweather didn't address that comment specifically in his mea culpa -- but did say when it comes to domestic violence ... "I'm not perfect, I make mistakes and I don't condone that at all."
Ray Rice Case
Report: An NFL Executive
Got the Punch Video in April
9/10/2014 2:01 PM PDT BY TMZ STAFF
An NFL executive got the video of Ray Rice punching Janay way back in April -- and the exec got it from someone in law enforcement ... according to a new report.
The Associated Press is saying a source claims he sent a copy of the video -- first posted by TMZ Sports on Monday -- to the NFL exec, and even got a voicemail from a NFL offices phone number confirming receipt of the video on April 9.
The AP says the source actually played the 12-second VM for them -- and a female voice is heard saying thanks for sending the video and described it as "terrible."
Here's what's curious -- why would the law enforcement official, who admits he was not authorized to share the video, leave his phone number with someone in the NFL ... therefore allowing the leak to be traced back to him?
The NFL is sticking to its story, telling TMZ ... "We have no knowledge of this. We are not aware of anyone in our office who possessed or saw the video before it was made public. We will look into it."
Congress to Goodell:
Stop BS'ing America
Come Clean On Ray Rice Tape
9/10/2014 9:55 AM PDT BY TMZ STAFF
The United States Congress has inserted itself in the Ray Rice scandal ... the House Judiciary Committee has just fired off a letter to NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell ... demanding that he come clean.
The letter -- signed by 12 members of the Committee and obtained by TMZ Sports -- notes that Goodell has said he had requested the video but never got it. But the Committee is skeptical, writing, "To our knowledge the public has not been informed as to specifically how and in what context the request was made, and specifically how relevant law enforcement responded."
TMZ has reported ... Goodell's request was to law enforcement but NOT the Casino, which would have gladly anted up the video. And we reported Rice's lawyer had a copy.
The Committee goes on, "Nor has there been a full explanation as to whether the video was requested of others, such as Mr. Rice's attorney or the casino where the incident occurred (and if not, why not), or whether any employees, agents, or consultants of the league or any of its teams outside of your office had access of the video prior to September 8."
The Committee is demanding "greater transparency and explanations on these matters."
DON'T FIRE GOODELL
... Here's Why
9/10/2014 9:21 AM PDT BY TMZ STAFF
THE JOKES BEGIN
Gilbert Gottfried Zings NFL Star
9/10/2014 8:34 AM PDT BY TMZ STAFF
Too soon? Apparently not ... according to Gilbert Gottfried who finally decided to put Ray Rice in the comedy crosshairs.
"Obviously Ray Rice misunderstood me when I said 'She's hot, you should definitely hit that!'" ... Gilbert tweeted.
Cracking jokes on timely news stories is kinda Gilbert's thing -- and he also knows there can be consequences ... like when he was fired from his job as the voice of the AFLAC duck back in 2011 after joking about the tsunami in Japan.
As for Ray Rice, the question we're asking in the office -- think Joan Rivers woulda beat Gottfried to the joke?
GOODELL HAS 'CREDIBILITY ISSUES'
Should Call Condoleezza for Help
9/10/2014 8:13 AM PDT BY TMZ STAFF
Senator John McCain says Roger Goodell has serious "credibility issues" ... and should get Condoleezza Rice on the phone ASAP to help clean up his mess.
McCain was out in D.C. Tuesday when he was asked how he felt about the Ray Rice video and how the NFL was handling the situation -- and that's when McCain fired the shot at Goodell.
As for talk that Condoleezza could replace Goodell as NFL Commish, McCain doesn't exactly sign off on that -- but says Rice "would be a good person for [Goodell] to call in and have a discussion with."
He adds, "I think she could help him."
FYI -- Condoleezza is a huge football fan and has expressed interest in the NFL job before. She's currently on the College Football Playoff Selection Committee.
As for McCain, he took one last parting shot ... at his beloved Arizona Diamondbacks.