NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell tried to correct a wrong today. In a letter to league owners, ESPN reports that Goodell told league owners, “I didn’t get it right,” in response to the issue of domestic violence, partially due to Ravens’ running back Ray Rice’s two-game suspension for a physical altercation with his wife caught on camera:
“At times, however, and despite our best efforts, we fall short of our goals,” Goodell wrote. “We clearly did so in response to a recent incident of domestic violence. … My disciplinary decision led the public to question our sincerity, our commitment, and whether we understood the toll that domestic violence inflicts on so many families. I take responsibility both for the decision and for ensuring that our actions in the future properly reflect our values. I didn’t get it right.”
In an effort to initiate changes, the NFL announced new regulations to the conduct policy regarding domestic violence. With these additions, any offender will receive a six-game suspension for a first offense and a lifetime ban for a second offense. The policy applies to all league personnel and it still applied whether they’re convicted in a court of law or not:
“A six-game suspension would be without pay and the length of the penalty could increase in these cases: an employee was involved in a prior incident before joining the NFL; violence involving a weapon; choking, repeated striking, or when the act is committed against a pregnant woman; or in the presence of a child. A second-time offender may petition for reinstatement after one year but there is no assurance the petition would be granted, the letter said.
“A league source told ESPN’s Andrew Brandt that discipline would be triggered by adjudication of a player’s case, such as a conviction or plea agreement. The policy is not retroactive, meaning all personnel have a clean slate, a league source told ESPN’s Mark Dominik. If a player commits a crime while in college or high school and then has a first offense while in the NFL, the player could be subject to a suspension harsher than six games.” (via)
Yesterday, Beware and I had a quick conversation about how Josh Gordon’s year-long suspension made Rice’s mini-vaction from the NFL look even more laughable in the public eye. The NFL appeared infuriatingly blind to how seemingly miscalculated Rice’s punishment looked in light of other situations. While weighing one wrong versus another doesn’t always work out, the unfortunate fact stood that the NFL hadn’t updated their stance on domestic violence to coincide with the times. Goodell admitted as much in July when he defended Rice’s punishment by saying, “We just can’t make up the discipline.”
The changes announced today are a step in the right direction, with a hard line drawn that we can only hope no one crosses.