WASHINGTON (CBSDC/AP) — NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell admits that the league has a domestic violence problem.
Speaking to “CBS This Morning,” Goodell says the league needs to deal with the domestic violence issue among its players better.
“Absolutely. We’re saying we have a problem. We have one incident, that’s a problem,” Goodell explained. “And what we want to do is policy that we implemented two weeks ago and say, ‘We haven’t done this right.’ We have had lots of conversations, lots of listening and learning right here in this room with experts, not just in the last two weeks or three weeks or month, but over the last couple of years to say, ‘How can we deal with this issue better? How can we prevent the cases from happening?’ And when they do happen, how can we send the right message to say, ‘This is unacceptable?’”
Goodell has come under fire for his handling of the Ray Rice situation where the former Baltimore Ravens running back was initially suspended for only two games after Rice was caught on video dragging his then- fiancée Janay Palmer unconscious out of the elevator in February at the Revel Casino Hotel in Atlantic City. The Ravens then cut Rice and the NFL suspended him indefinitely Monday after TMZ released a new video showing Rice knocking Palmer unconscious inside the elevator. Rice had been charged with felony aggravated assault in the case, but in May he was accepted into a pretrial intervention program that allowed him to avoid jail time and could lead to the charge being purged from his record.
Rice isn’t the only domestic violence case that the NFL is currently dealing with. San Francisco 49ers defensive tackle Ray McDonald was arrested on suspicion of domestic violence after police say there were “visible injuries” to the alleged victim, his pregnant fiancée. Carolina Panthers defensive end Greg Hardy was convicted in July of assaulting his ex-girlfriend and has appealed for a jury trial set for November. Neither player has yet to be punished by the league.
Following the outrage over Rice’s initial two-game suspension, Goodell admitted he got it wrong and announced tougher penalties for players accused of domestic violence, including six weeks for a first offense and at least a year for a second.
Goodell admits that the NFL dropped the ball with how they handled the case.
“Well, we certainly didn’t know what was on the tape,” Goodell said, referring to the second tape showing Rice striking Palmer. “But we have been very open and honest. And I have also — from two weeks ago when I acknowledged that we didn’t get this right. That’s my responsibility. And I’m accountable for that.”
Goodell claims that he or no one else in the league office saw this latest videotape until TMZ released it on Monday.
“I will tell you that what we saw on the first videotape was troubling to us in and of itself. And that’s why we took the action we took. As I’ve said before, we didn’t feel that was sufficient, we didn’t get that right. But what we saw (Monday) was extremely clear, it was extremely graphic, and it was sickening.”
The NFL commissioner told CBS News he doesn’t fear for his job despite calls for him to step down following how the league investigated Rice.
“No, I’m used to criticism. I’m used to that. Every day, I have to earn my stripes. Every day, I have to, to do a better job. And that’s my responsibility to the game, to the NFL, and to what I see as society,” Goodell stated.
Goodell added that Rice could get a second chance to return to the NFL.
“I don’t rule that out. But he would have to make sure that we are fully confident that he is addressing this issue. Clearly, he has paid a price for the actions that he’s already taken,” Goodell told CBS News.
He did state, though, that he hasn’t thought about what those circumstances might be for Rice to rejoin the league.
“I haven’t thought about that because right now, I think the focus is he’s got a lot of work to do, the family has a lot of work to do. We’re going to obviously provide whatever resources we can to help them work through that,” Goodell told CBS News. “At the same time, we’re going to continue to try to implement our policies and our, our revised education and training so that we can get to people and help people and their families make the wiser decision – and know they have resources available.”
Palmer defended her husband on her Instagram account Tuesday, saying that barring Rice from playing football is “horrific” and that making the couple “relive a moment in our lives that we regret every day is a horrible thing.”
In a brief telephone interview with ESPN, Rice said: “I have to be strong for my wife. She is so strong. … We are in good spirits. We have a lot of people praying for us and we’ll continue to support each other.”
Rice stood to make $4 million this year. In addition to his salary, he’ll also lose income from canceled endorsement deals. Nike announced it has severed its business ties with him, and video game publisher Electronic Arts said it would scrub Rice’s image from their latest Madden ’15 release.
In public statements this summer, he expressed regret: “I let so many people down because of 30 seconds of my life that I know I can’t take back.”
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