(Reuters) - A women’s rights group will fly banners over pro football stadiums on Sunday calling on NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell to resign over his handling of former Baltimore Ravens star Ray Rice’s domestic violence case, the group said.
The organization, UltraViolet, said it will fly banners reading, “#GoodellMustGo,” over stadiums in Cleveland, New Jersey and San Francisco ahead of Sunday games. The group says it also will fly the message before a Monday night game to be played in Indianapolis.
The demonstration comes as the league scrambles to manage criticism over its handling of Ray Rice, who was suspended for only two games in July after he knocked out his then-fiancée and now-wife Janay Palmer with a punch to the face.
The three-time Pro Bowler was cut by the Ravens and indefinitely suspended from the league earlier this week after celebrity news website TMZ on Monday published a security video of the incident taken inside a New Jersey casino elevator.
“It is time for Roger Goodell to resign, and for the NFL to get serious about its commitment to ending violence against women within the league,” UltraViolet co-founder Nita Chaudhary said in a written statement.
Goodell, the NFL commissioner since 2006, admitted he “didn’t get it right” when initially punishing Rice, but has maintained that the league never saw the security tape until it was released by TMZ.
Rice was indicted in March by a grand jury on third-degree aggravated assault, but the charge was dropped because Palmer declined to testify against him. He ultimately agreed to court-supervised counseling as part of a pre-trial intervention program.
Over the span of a generation, women have gone from being casual fans to meaningful customers of the league and now account for 45 percent of the NFL audience, between television and stadiums. Some 6 million women tune in to NFL games every week.
Reporting by Curtis Skinner in San Francisco; Editing by Dan Whitcomb & Kim Coghill