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September 11th, 2014
06:31 PM ET

ESPN co-host: No evidence yet Goodell is lying

(CNN) – The president of the National Organization for Women (NOW) and a chorus of others have called for NFL commissioner Roger Goodell's resignation, after reports surfaced that the league saw a video of Baltimore Ravens star Ray Rice knocking his fiancee out cold months ago.

Goodell said Tuesday that no one in the league saw the video before TMZ published it online earlier this week.

But not everyone is calling for Goodell's ouster. Indeed, ESPN "First Take" co-host Stephen A. Smith railed against NOW president Terry O'Neill.

"I'm sorry. I think this woman is off her rocker. She's lost her mind. That's right, I said it. Most ridiculous nonsense. Roger Goodell deserves to lose his job because - why are you acting like he's Ray Rice? Roger Goodell did not hit her. He hasn't hit any women," Smith said on ESPN.

Smith walked that back in an interview with CNN's "The Lead with Jake Tapper," saying he apologizes to O'Neil because he believed she was calling for Goodell's resignation specifically because of his handling of the Ray Rice video.

"It was in the aftermath of that, that we learned her position was about 50 some odd cases that Roger Goodell has had to oversee since 2006, where players have been involved in this level of lawlessness, and not enough has been done to her liking. She's talking about a history involving the NFL and it was far more extensive and expansive than what she led on, when her original quote and statement came out yesterday," Smith said.

But the ESPN host stood by his defense of Goodell, saying the commissioner has "an impeccable reputation, and (is) not seen as somebody as being dishonest."

"So until we have proof that he's absolutely lying about having not seen the video ... I don't know if we can engage in a level of condemnation that calls for his job," he said.

The NFL, however, has an extensive history when it comes to conducting private investigations into players and potential recruits.

"There is no question that at the very least there was a dereliction of duty on the part of the National Football League – whether it's with Roger Goodell's office, whether it's with the security department, or whatever the case may be," said Smith.

Given the The ESPN co-host acknowledged that it is "hard to believe" that – if the AP report is accurate – the elevator video didn't make its way to Goodell.

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