Goodell tackles NFL domestic abuse crisis with vow to reform

Fri Sep 19, 2014 10:53pm EDT
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By Larry Fine

NEW YORK (Reuters) - A chastened NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell said on Friday that the league's poor response to its domestic violence crisis will prompt an overhaul of how it deals with player behavior and punishment in America's most popular sports league.

Goodell has been under fire since the NFL's slow and fumbled response to the domestic violence incident involving Baltimore Ravens star Ray Rice, whose knock-out punch to his then-fiancee was captured in a video that went viral last week.

"I got it wrong in the handling of the Ray Rice matter," Goodell told a packed news conference. "And I'm sorry for that. I got it wrong on a number of levels, from the process that I led to the decision that I reached."

It was the embattled commissioner's first public appearance in more than a week, after the number of domestic violence cases involving players grew to five, teams bowed to public pressure and major sponsors criticized the league.

Doubts about Goodell's leadership had spiraled due to his failure to address the issue in public earlier. But Goodell said he never considered resigning from the post he has held since 2006.

Rules governing personal conduct for players and other employees will change, he said, and experts from outside the league will help it shape that new policy.

A "conduct committee" will be established by the NFL to review policy, a significant concession for an organization known for its top-down, fortress-like approach to management.

"We will get our house in order," Goodell said."I know this because we will make it happen," he said. "Nothing is off the table. Let me say it again, we will implement new conduct policies."   Continued...

NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell speaks at a news conference to address domestic violence issues and the NFL's Personal Conduct Policy in New York, September 19, 2014.  REUTERS/Mike Segar