National Football League Commissioner Roger Goodell said on Friday that rules governing personal conduct will change, signaling a major shift in policy in the wake of the league’s poor handling of domestic abuse cases.
Goodell said a committee will be established by the NFL to review policy but he avoided commenting on what the change will mean for his overriding power in the disciplinary process.
“We will get our house in order,” he told a packed news conference, his first public comments in over a week as the crisis mushroomed and threatened his credibility and possibly his job.
Goodell, 55, has been under fire because of the NFL’s slow and fumbled response to the domestic violence incident involving Baltimore Ravens star Ray Rice and to other cases that came to light afterward.
“I got it wrong in the handling of the Ray Rice matter,” he said. “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.
“But now I will get it right and do whatever is necessary to accomplish that.”
Goodell said he has not considered resigning.
Rice, 27, has since been released by the Baltimore Ravens and suspended indefinitely by the NFL as the league grapples with how to handle the incendiary issue.
The domestic violence issue emerged when Goodell suspended Rice for two games after he knocked out fiance Janay Palmer, who is now his wife, in a New Jersey casino elevator in February. Many saw the commissioner’s penalty as too light.
Only when a video of the punch emerged on the website TMZ on Sept. 8 did Goodell decide to suspend Rice indefinitely.
Minnesota Vikings running back Adrian Peterson, the NFL’s most valuable player in 2012, and defensive end Greg Hardy of the Carolina Panthers have been placed on the league’s “exempt” list until their domestic violence cases are resolved.
Goodell, normally stoic but on Friday apologetic, spoke slowly and in a halting voice. He said personnel and staff will be required to undergo training on the prevention of domestic violence and sexual assault starting within 30 days.
He said the league will partner with the National Domestic Violence Hotline and National Sexual Violence Resource Center, adding that there will be changes to the NFL’s personal conduct policy.
“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.”
(Reporting by Larry Fine; Additional reporting by Eric Kelsey; Writing by Steve Ginsburg; Editing by Mary Milliken and Bill Trott)