After Rice, NFL increases domestic violence bans
NEW YORK — Acknowledging he "didn't get it right" with a two-game suspension for Ravens running back Ray Rice, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell announced tougher penalties for players accused of domestic violence, including six weeks for a first offense and at least a year for a second.
In a letter sent to all 32 team owners Thursday and obtained by The Associated Press, Goodell never mentions Rice by name but makes clear references to the Baltimore player who was charged with assault after being caught on video dragging his then-fiancee off a casino elevator.
"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," Goodell wrote. "I didn't get it right. Simply put, we have to do better. And we will."
Since January 2000, 77 players have been involved in 85 domestic violence incidents with six being cut by their teams, according to USA Today's NFL Arrests Database. The NFL suspended six players for one game each, and Rice was the second player to be suspended for two games.
Carolina Panthers defensive end Greg Hardy was convicted in July of assaulting his ex-girlfriend and has appealed for a jury trial set for November. His league punishment has not been announced. Goodell's letter doesn't state clearly how the league will handle pending cases and NFL spokesman Greg Aiello said in an email, "Each case will be addressed individually on its merits."
Outrage over Rice's punishment prompted three members of Congress to write to the commissioner asking him to reconsider Rice's suspension; the governor of Maine also threatened to boycott the league, and numerous groups that advocate for women and families condemned the penalty as too lenient.
The commissioner told teams to distribute his memo to all players and to post it in locker rooms. It reads in part: "Domestic violence and sexual assault are wrong. They are illegal. They are never acceptable and have no place in the NFL under any circumstances."