Roger Goodell: NFL Commissioner Admits He Was Wrong On Domestic Violence, Announces Harsh New Penalties

Roger Goodell has admitted that he was wrong to go soft on domestic violence, and in response has implemented a strict new set of punishments for players who are convicted.

Goodell sent a letter to owners this week admitting that he made a mistake in only banning Baltimore Ravens running back Ray Rice for two games. Rice was caught on video dragging his unconscious fiance from an elevator after the two had gotten into a fight. The light ban created quite a bit of controversy, and now Goodell has pledged to make things right.

The new NFL domestic violence policy calls for a six-game suspension for a first offense and a lifetime ban from the NFL for a second offense.

In his letter to NFL owners, Roger Goodell said the new policy was a chance for the league to make a statement.

At times, however, and despite our best efforts, we fall short of our goals. We clearly did so in response to a recent incident of domestic violence. We allowed our standards to fall below where they should be and lost an important opportunity to emphasize our strong stance on a critical issue and the effective programs we have in place. 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. Simply put, we have to do better. And we will.

The policy could actually be harsher for players with a history of domestic violence. A league source told ESPN that players who have a domestic violence offense in either high school or college could receive a first suspension longer than six games.

But the new NFL domestic violence policy also views each case individually. From ESPN:

To be counted as an “offense,” a player would not necessarily have to be convicted in a court of law, but each incident will be judged on its own merits. The updated personal conduct policy had the approval of all 32 owners, Dominik’s source said.

The NFLPA, which was not consulted on Goodell’s decision as the policy falls under the NFL’s conduct policies, vowed to stand up for players to ensure they are given due process.

“We were informed today of the NFL’s decision to increase penalties on domestic violence offenders under the personal conduct policy for all NFL employees. As we do in all disciplinary matters, if we believe that players’ due process rights are infringed upon during the course of discipline, we will assert and defend our members’ rights,” the union said.

Roger Goodell also announced that the new NFL domestic violence policy will coincide with outreach programs, including more information on domestic violence at the annual rookie symposium.