BALTIMORE (WJZ/AP) — The Ravens’ Ray Rice, the Vikings’ Adrian Petersen, the Panthers’ Greg Hardy, the 49ers’ Ray McDonald and the Cardinals’ Jonathan Dwyer. All of these NFL players’ domestic violence scandals have put increasing pressure on the league — and Commissioner Roger Goodell, who finally broke his 10-day silence at a press conference this afternoon.
Mike Hellgren reports Goodell made it clear that he isn’t resigning.
With a number of fans outraged at the commissioner’s decision, he announce big money will go to the National Domestic Violence Hotline and the new education programs for everyone involved in the league.
He reiterated that the NFL did ask for the video from the hotel in Rice’s elevator incident, but Atlantic City prosecutors say there’s no record of that.
Goodell said the new video was inconsistent with what Rice said and that’s why he was suspended immediately after the video surfaced.
“I got it wrong in the handling of the Ray Rice matter, and I’m sorry for that,” he said. “We will get our house in order first.”
Last week, Goodell asked the FBI director to review the NFL’s process on addressing Rice’s suspension.
“The same mistakes can never be repeated,” Goodell said. “I made a mistake. I let myself down.”
In response to the criticism, the NFL announced it is partnering with a domestic violence hotline and a sexual violence resource center.
Goodell said in a memo to the clubs late Thursday that within the next 30 days, all NFL and team personnel will participate in education sessions on domestic violence and sexual assault. The memo said the league will work with the union in providing the “information and tools to understand and recognize domestic violence and sexual assault.”
The league will provide financial, operational and promotional support to the National Domestic Violence Hotline and the National Sexual Violence Resource Center.
Goodell said he hope to have the new policies and changes in place by the Super Bowl.
Domestic violence affects everyone, he said, “but we cannot solve them by ourselves.”
The league has faced increasing criticism it has not acted quickly or emphatically enough concerning the domestic abuse cases.
“Our standards and the consequences of falling short must be clear, consistent and current,” Goodell said.
The commissioner and some NFL teams have been heavily criticized for lenient or delayed punishment of players involved in recent domestic violence cases. Less than three weeks into the season, five such cases have made headlines.
“We don’t have a clear and concise policy to deal with all the situations that are arising,” Goodell said.
Vikings star running back Peterson, Carolina defensive end Hardy and Arizona running back Dwyer are on a special commissioner’s exemption list and are being paid while they go through the legal process. McDonald, a defensive end for San Francisco, continues to practice and play while being investigated on suspicion of domestic violence.
As these cases have come to light, such groups as the National Organization of Women and league partners and sponsors have come down hard on the NFL to be more responsive in dealing with them. Congress also is watching to see how the NFL reacts.
“We’re going to clean up our house, and we’re going to make a difference,” Goodell said. “[Sponsors] want to see us achieve that. They’re not looking for talk. They’re looking for action. . . .This is not a quick fix.”
He added, however, he’s not resigning. He’s focusing on his job.
“We made a mistake in letting our standards fall,” Goodell said about why the domestic violence crimes aren’t treated as harshly. “We’re in a different age now with different issues and different challenges. The policy in place was not up to standards, the discipline was not where it should be.”
As fans waited in long lines to trade in their Rice jerseys at M&T Bank Stadium on Friday, many accused Goodell of being inconsistent at best–some have even called him a liar.
(Copyright 2013 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)
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