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Steelers Art Rooney appointed to oversee investigation of Ray Rice evidence

The Steelers president will head up the league's portion of an independent investigation aimed to determine what happened in the league's handling of the Ray Rice evidence.

Karl Walter

NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell appointed Steelers owner Art Rooney II and Giants owner John Mara to oversee an independent investigation headed by former FBI Director Robert S. Mueller III, according to a statement released Wednesday night by the NFL.

"Commissioner Goodell pledged that Director Mueller will have full cooperation of NFL personnel and access to all NFL records," according to that statement.

Mueller served as Director of the FBI from 2001-2013 and is currently a partner in the law firm of WilmerHale, which is based in Washington, D.C.

Goodell will grant Mueller access to all NFL records, the statement said.

The involvement of Rooney and Mara appears to be the league's attempt to show its fan base it is taking this investigation seriously. The Rooney family and Mara family are among the longest-running ownership groups in professional sports.

The NFL and Goodell in particular are currently taking extreme criticism, including questions from members of the U.S. Congress, concerning how they handled the domestic-abuse charge of ex-Ravens running back Ray Rice.

Rice was charged in Atlanic City, N.J., after he struck his then-fiancee (now wife) in the face, rendering her unconscious, before being apprehended by security at the hotel/casino at which the couple was staying. Goodell gave Rice a two-game suspension in May, leading to backlash from the public over the perceived leniency of the sentence.

Rice pleaded not guilty to the charge in an effort to be placed in an diversionary program.

Initially, the tape showing Rice dragging the victim from the elevator was made public, but not the tape of what happened inside the elevator. That came out Monday, leading to public demands for explanation. The Ravens released Rice (after an off-season spent showing a huge amount of internal support for the player) and he was suspended indefinitely by the NFL.

Goodell claimed he had never seen the tape in a CBS interview that aired this week. Since then, a law enforcement official in Atlantic City provided evidence the tape was delivered to the league office and confirmation of receipt of that tape was given. Goodell maintains he didn't see it and also has previously said the league requested it, but that request was denied. The Baltimore Ravens claim the same request was made and they, too, were denied. Reports have recently come out indicating the Ravens were given the tape as well.