Ray Rice Released by Ravens After Graphic Video Shows Him Punching, Dragging Fiancee

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The Baltimore Ravens have terminated the contract of running back Ray Rice, the team announced Monday, the same day a shocking video surfaced showing the NFL star punching his then-fiancee in February.

The news release from the NFL team was terse.

Running back Ray Rice of the Baltimore Ravens addresses a news conference with his wife Janay at the Ravens training center on May 23, 2014 in Owings Mills, Maryland. Rice spoke publicly for the first time since facing felony assault charges stemming from a February incident involving Janay at an Atlantic City casino. (Credit: Rob Carr/Getty Images)

Running back Ray Rice of the Baltimore Ravens addresses a news conference with his wife Janay at the Ravens training center on May 23, 2014 in Owings Mills, Maryland. Rice spoke publicly for the first time since facing felony assault charges stemming from a February incident involving Janay at an Atlantic City casino. (Credit: Rob Carr/Getty Images)

“The Baltimore Ravens terminated the contract of RB Ray Rice this afternoon,” it read.

Rice had been suspended by the league for the first two games of the season, a controversial move that led to widespread criticism and to the league re-evaluating the punishment for domestic violence cases.

The new video shows Rice punching Janay Palmer, who is now his wife, inside an elevator at a hotel in Atlantic City, New Jersey, seven months ago.

TMZ Sports posted the video Monday showing Rice and Palmer entering an elevator. Inside the elevator, Rice punches Palmer. Palmer lunges after Rice, and then Rice hits her back and she falls to the floor.

Previously, TMZ Sports had released hotel surveillance video of Rice dragging an unconscious Palmer out of the elevator. This is the first time video has been released that shows Rice punching her.

A few months after the incident, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell suspended Rice without pay and fined him an additional game check for “conduct detrimental to the NFL.” However, no one in the NFL offices, including Goodell, had seen the newly released footage of the incident until Monday, the league told CNN.

“We requested from law enforcement any and all information about the incident, including the video from inside the elevator,” NFL senior vice president of communications Greg Aiello said. “That video was not made available to us and no one in our office has seen it until today.”

Ray Rice #27 of the Baltimore Ravens sits on the bench against the Dallas Cowboys in the first half of their preseason game at AT&T Stadium on August 16, 2014 in Arlington, Texas. (Credit: Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)

Ray Rice #27 of the Baltimore Ravens sits on the bench against the Dallas Cowboys in the first half of their preseason game at AT&T Stadium on August 16, 2014 in Arlington, Texas. (Credit: Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)

The NFL has previously said that Rice entered a pretrial intervention program in May. Under the program, he won’t be prosecuted, and the charges will be expunged after one year.

In a press conference in July, Rice said his actions were “inexcusable” and that he and his wife are in counseling.

“We’re taking the necessary steps to move forward,” he said. “My job is to lead my family. My job is to lead my wife. My job is to lead in whatever I do. And If I’m not being the example, then my family crumbles.”

Goodell has already been scrutinized for suspending Rice for just two games, months after the first video aired. Many felt the suspension wasn’t enough, and in August, the commissioner himself agreed.

In a letter to all NFL team owners, he said the league had fallen short of its goals in its handling of the Rice case: “We allowed our standards to fall below where they should be and lost an important opportunity to emphasize our strong stance on a critical issue and the effective programs we have in place.”

“I didn’t get it right. Simply put, we have to do better. And we will,” he added.

Some NFL fans have questioned why Ravens head coach John Harbaugh would call Rice “one heck of a guy,” and why the Ravens would tweet out “Janay Rice says she deeply regrets the role that she played the night of the incident.”

They have also questioned why Cleveland Browns receiver Josh Gordon would be suspended for a year after testing positive for marijuana when Rice was suspended for just two games.

In his August letter to team owners, Goodell said the league will institute a six-game unpaid suspension for personnel who violate the league’s personal conduct policy when it relates to domestic violence. A second domestic violence incident would be punished by a lifetime ban from the league.