NFL commissioner Roger Goodell has continually been in the cross hairs of players, coaches, owners and reporters for a myriad of reasons in the eight years that he has been in charge. Recently, Goodell was roundly criticized in being too lax in his punishment of the Baltimore Ravens' running back Ray Rice. His immediate predecessor, Paul Tagliabue, was nearly universally respected. Tagliabue's predecessor, Pete Rozelle, was universally loved. Goodell has never found the same level of success as Rozelle or Tagliabue.
In a letter sent to all 32 NFL owners today, commissioner Roger Goodell admitted that the league had fallen short in punishment "in response to a recent incident of domestic violence". While Goodell did not specifically name Ray Rice, the situation was readily apparent to anyone who read the letter.
TMZ Sports broke the Rice story in February, with videotape of Rice allegedly pulling his then fiance, Janay Palmer, from a casino elevator in Atlantic City. Palmer appeared to be out cold, and she was reportedly knocked out by a punch by Rice. Rice and Palmer held a joint press conference on May 22, 2014 to clear the air about the situation.
After a review of the circumstances involving Rice and Palmer, Goodell handed down a two-game suspension to Rice on July 24, 2014. The suspension was seen in most circles as being insufficient, given the seriousness of the offense.
In his letter Rice in July, Goodell outlined his concerns, “As you acknowledged during our meeting, your conduct was unquestionably inconsistent with league polices and the standard of behavior required of everyone who is part of the NFL. The league is an entity that depends on integrity and in the confidence of the public and we simply cannot tolerate conduct that endangers others or reflects negatively on our game. This is particularly true with respect to domestic violence and other forms of violence against women."
Rice will miss two intra-division games against the Cincinnati Bengals on Sept. 7 and versus the Pittsburgh Steelers on Sept. 11. Both games are Ravens' home games. Under the new NFL policy, Rice would have faced an automatic six games suspension for the same offense.
In his letter today, Goodell took personal responsibility for the Rice decision. He wrote, " 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."
According to multiple reports, Ray Rice and Janay Palmer were married in March.