Washington - Ray Rice was released by the Baltimore Ravens and suspended indefinitely by the National Football League on Monday after video footage emerged showing him punching and knocking out his fiancee.
Just 19 months after the star running back helped Baltimore win the Super Bowl, Rice was dismissed in disgrace with the Ravens terminating a contract that would have paid him $10 million over the next three years.
The new video released online by TMZ shows Rice striking Janay Palmer, now his wife, with his left fist in a February altercation in an Atlantic City casino elevator.
"It's something we saw for the first time today," Ravens coach John Harbaugh said of the video. "It changed things."
Instead of Rice preparing to return Friday from a two-game ban seen by most as far too lenient, the domestic violence episode exploded as the biggest sports story in America, drawing the attention of US President Barack Obama.
"The President is the father of two daughters. And like any American, he believes that domestic violence is contemptible and unacceptable in a civilized society," White House press secretary Josh Earnest said.
"Hitting a woman is not something a real man does, and that's true whether or not an act of violence happens in the public eye, or, far too often, behind closed doors.
An earlier TMZ video release only showed Rice carrying an unconscious Palmer off the elevator and brought the two-game ban from NFL commissioner Roger Goodell, who admitted last month he blundered with so small a suspension.
A tougher new domestic violence policy requires a six-game suspension for a first violation, and, for repeat offenders, indefinite and possible lifetime bans.
Both the NFL and team said they had not seen the punch video earlier, but Harbaugh could not explain why the league did not obtain the casino security video footage.
"It wasn't made available," he said.
Many were skeptical the world's richest league lacked the influence to gather such evidence, with free agent tight end Tom Crabtree tweeting: "NFL never saw that video before today. I also have a bridge I'd like to sell you."
Retired Ravens linebacker Ray Lewis, whose mother suffered domestic abuse, said he still wants to help his former Super Bowl champion teammate.
"For me it stings because he's a friend. I always tried to take this young man and teach him something different," Lewis said.
Lewis exchanged messages with Rice on Monday after his release.
"He's in a very low place," Lewis said. "He feels like the whole world is after him. And it is. And it should be. But I think there are ways he can find his way out of it. How do you get out of this? You seek counseling. You seek help."
Hours after the video showed Rice and Palmer as abuser and victim, Harbaugh offered support to them as a couple.
"I have nothing but hope and good will for Ray and Janay, and we will try to help them as they go forward and try to make the best of it," Harbaugh said.
Rice had planned to return Friday, the day after the Ravens face Pittsburgh. The Ravens lost their opener 23-16 to Cincinnati on Sunday.
Three days before their second game, the Ravens were a team in pain, Harbaugh said.
"When someone you care about does wrong and faces the consequences of doing wrong and rightfully so, it is hurtful and painful," Harbaugh said.
But he insisted the video "will not impact us in any way football-wise. We cannot allow that."
Rice was arrested and charged with domestic violence assault. In May, he began a one-year intervention program that allowed him to avoid prosecution and serving jail time.
"If there's anyway to open that case up and give this guy the punishment he deserves, it NEEDS to be done," Denver Broncos defender Terrance Knighton tweeted.
"That man should be thrown out of the NFL and thrown into jail... I don't give a damn who you are or how much money you make. No place for this."
Rice, 27, spent six seasons with the Ravens, four of them as a starter and was defended by teammates until the latest video.
"Having the locker right beside him, he seemed like a good guy," said Ravens blocker Michael Oher. "But there's no place for striking a woman like that."