The NFL and commissioner Roger Goodell have faced an enormous amount of backlash since the decision to punish Ray Rice with only a two-game suspension after he assaulted his now-wife Janay Palmer. On Thursday, Goodell sent a letter to all 32 NFL teams outlining a new policy that will help to avoid a similar situation in the future.
“Effective immediately, violations of the Personal Conduct Policy regarding assault, battery, domestic violence or sexual assault that involve physical force will be subject to a suspension without pay of six games for a first offense, with consideration given to mitigating factors, as well as a longer suspension when circumstances warrant,” the letter read. “Among the circumstances that would merit a more severe penalty would be a prior incident before joining the NFL, or violence involving a weapon, choking, repeated striking, or when the act is committed against a pregnant woman or in the presence of a child.
“A second offense will result in banishment from the NFL; while an individual may petition for reinstatement after one year, there will be no presumption or assurance that the petition will be granted. These disciplinary standards will apply to all NFL personnel.”
To his credit, Goodell directly addressed the Rice situation and admitted he made a mistake in only handing down a two-game suspension.
“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. I didn’t get it right. Simply put, we have to do better. And we will.”
Rice and the Ravens are fortunate the NFL didn’t smarten up sooner.