Goodell gets support and criticism after NFL orders new Rice probe

Thu Sep 11, 2014 4:56pm EDT
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By Steve Ginsburg

(Reuters) - A major advertiser expressed support for NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell on Thursday, while a women's advocacy group called for his resignation in the mounting controversy over his handling of former Baltimore Ravens star Ray Rice's domestic violence case.

The NFL late on Wednesday named former FBI Director Robert Mueller to lead an inquiry into how the league dealt with evidence in the case, particularly security video from an elevator showing Rice knocking out his then-fiancee and now-wife Janay Palmer with a punch.

While Goodell said the National Football League never saw the tape until it was released by the TMZ website on Monday, the Associated Press reported on Wednesday that a law enforcement official said he had the tape delivered to league offices in April.

It is unclear how long Mueller will need for the investigation, leaving a cloud over the NFL at the start of a new season. But in a league with annual revenues of $9 billion, the response of advertisers could be key to Goodell's future.

Verizon Communications Chief Executive Lowell McAdam, while acknowledging the Rice episode had been disturbing, gave his backing to Goodell, calling him "a man of high integrity."

McAdam, addressing a conference on Thursday, said he did not believe "there is some conspiracy to cover this up."

The NFL's decision to order an investigation could also alleviate some of the tension surrounding one of the biggest scandals to hit the powerful league in years.

"The NFL needs a quick credibility fix and this is the beginning of it," Rick Horrow, a sports business consultant and lecturer at Harvard Law School, told Reuters.   Continued...

May 8, 2014; New York, NY, USA; NFL commissioner Roger Goodell on stage during the first round of the 2014 NFL Draft at Radio City Music Hall. Mandatory Credit: Adam Hunger-USA TODAY Sports