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Senate Committee Chair Rockefeller looking to investigate NFL

U.S. Senator Jay Rockefeller (D, WV), the chairman of the senate committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation, is trying to mobilize members of the committee in an effort to conduct congressional hearings on the domestic violence issue as it pertains to the NFL.

A source close to the situation told The Herald that Rockefeller's work to find traction for such hearings among his members is well known within senate offices since it began in earnest Wednesday.

The NFL enjoys wide ranging anti-trust law exemptions and benefits from the government and thus Rockefeller sees holding the league accountable on a wide range of issues as well within his purview.

Rockefeller is known within Washington's Beltway as not a big fan of NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell. Goodell has come under fire for his handling of the domestic violence incident involving Ray Rice and his then-fiancee inside an Atlantic City elevator in February.

The NFL suspended Rice for two games after the incident -- which was seen by most as mild rebuke. Although Rice was not convicted after entering a pre-trial diversion program, Goodell admitted to owners in a letter he got the punishment for the Baltimore running back wrong.

How wrong is now at issue as TMZ.com recently released a video of the incident in the elevator which is graphic and shocking. The video shows Rice knocking out the woman he has since married -- Janay Palmer -- with one punch and then dragging her out of the elevator when the doors opened.

Goodell has maintained neither he nor anyone else at the NFL saw the video before it was released this week. when the video was released, the NFL then suspended Rice indefinitely. The Batlimore Ravens concurrently released Rice.

But the Associated Press, citing an unnamed law enforcement source, reported Wednesday that a copy of the video was turned over to the NFL months ago and an NFL representative acknowledged its receipt through a voicemail which the source played for the news organization.

The NFLresponded it had "no knowledge of this," and has promised to further investigate the matter.

But Rockefeller is now asking members of his committee to become involved as well. Rockefeller, 76, is retiring after this year so opening hearings that would hold the NFL's proverbial feet to the fire is not to be considered a ploy to earn votes, the source told The Herald.

But, the source allowed, perhaps Rockefeller is looking for one final opportunity to make Goodell uncomfortable. 

If Rockefeller finds traction for conducting NFL hearings among his members, an announcement could come within days.