Did NFL executives see video of Ray Rice punching his then-fiancee inside a casino elevator?
Perhaps as critically: Did they even need to?
On "New Day" Friday, ESPN's Jemele Hill doubted the league's ability to handle domestic abuse if it took video proof of the incident for the league to take more serious action against the player.
“Somebody telling you they punched their wife shouldn’t be any different than you seeing it," Hill said.
In recent days, serious questions have been raised about what the pro football league knew concerning the February 15 incident at the now-shuttered Revel hotel and casino in Atlantic City, New Jersey.
What happened in an elevator at the Revel came five months before Commissioner Roger Goodell suspended Rice for two games, and well before TMZ posted video showing the Baltimore Ravens running back delivering a ferocious punch to the face of Janay Palmer.
In a letter to NFL executives this week, Goodell insisted, "We did not see the video of what took place inside the elevator until it was publicly released Monday."
That footage shows Palmer - Rice's then-fiancee and now-wife - rushing at Rice inside the elevator. He responds with a left hook to her face. Palmer is then seen face-first on the ground, apparently unconscious as the doors open and she's dragged by Rice - who doesn't show obvious emotion in the footage - into a hallway before others eventually tend to her.
The video is powerful, visceral. Then again, so is the description alone of what happened.
ESPN's Chris Mortensen laid out a very similar scenario on his network's "Dari and Mel" radio show in late July, shortly after Rice's initial two-day suspension was doled out. He cited sources talking to him about a video from inside the Revel elevator, one that Mortensen reported showed Palmer "attacking Ray," then him delivering "a punch."
Mortensen has since tweeted that the "Ray Rice video was not made available to" NFL executives. That doesn't mean those executives might not have known exactly what happened, though, before Rice got his two-game suspension - one that became indefinite after the so-called knockout video came out.
That includes Goodell. According to ESPN, he learned about the crushing blow from none other than Ray Rice himself.
Four sources told the network's "Outside the Lines" program that, during a June 16 meeting, Rice told the commissioner he punched his then-fiancee inside the elevator.
"(Rice) told the full truth to Goodell - he made it clear he had hit her," a source with knowledge of the meeting said, according to ESPN. "And he told Goodell he was sorry and that it wouldn't happen again."
Goodell recently told CBS that this second video was "inconsistent" with what Rice told him.
See more on this developing story on CNN.com