Goodell defends Rice punishment deemed 'light' by critics
(Reuters) - NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell on Friday defended the league's decision to suspend Baltimore Ravens running back Ray Rice two games for violating the league's personal conduct policy in a domestic abuse incident.
Goodell's ruling last Thursday caused a harsh backlash from critics who thought he let Rice off lightly compared to harsher penalties for doping and on-field violations by other players.
Three U.S. senators expressed their dismay in a letter to Goodell that the punishment did not send a strong enough message against domestic violence.
"Our policy is clear. We have very firm policy that domestic violence is not acceptable here in the NFL and there will be consequences for that," Goodell told reporters in Canton, Ohio, site of Saturday's Hall of Fame inductions.
"(Rice) has been accountable for his actions. He recognizes he made a horrible mistake that is unacceptable by his standards, by our standards, and he's got to work to re-establish himself," Goodell said.
"The criminal justice system...put him in a diversionary program with no discipline, and we felt it was appropriate to have discipline and to continue counseling programs and to continue our educational work."
Rice was arrested in February after an altercation with his then-fiancée Janay Palmer at an Atlantic City hotel.
Video surfaced online showing Rice dragging an apparently unconscious Palmer out of the hotel elevator. The couple has since married.
Rice pleaded not guilty to a third-degree charge of aggravated assault and avoided trial by being accepted into an intervention program in May. Continued...