August 2, 2014 in Sports

NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell defends NFL’s 2-game suspension of Ray Rice

Associated Press
 

Goodell
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CANTON, Ohio – NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell defended the league on Friday against criticism that it was too lenient in suspending Ray Rice two games for his “horrible mistake.”

“We just can’t make up the discipline,” Goodell said. “It has to be consistent with other cases. And it was in this matter.”

Goodell stressed that the Baltimore Ravens’ running back has assumed responsibility for his conduct, had no history of assault and is following a court order to enter a diversionary program following his domestic violence arrest.

“We’ve dealt with it in a serious manner, and we’re very confident that this young man understands where he is and what he needs to do going forward,” Goodell said. “I think what’s important here is Ray has taken responsibility for this. He recognizes he made a horrible mistake that is unacceptable by his standards, by our standards. And he’s got to work to re-establish himself.”

Goodell spoke a day before the Pro Football Hall of Fame induction ceremony. It was his first opportunity to answer questions since the league disciplined Rice on July 24.

A day earlier, Rice apologized at training camp in his first comments since the suspension. He called his actions “totally inexcusable.”

The six-year veteran will miss the season opener against Cincinnati on Sept. 7 and the Sept. 11 game against Pittsburgh.

Rice allegedly struck then-fiancee Janay Palmer, now his wife, on Feb. 15 in Atlantic City, New Jersey. The 27-year-old player has been accepted into a diversion program and completion could result in the charges being expunged.

Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger was suspended six games in 2010 after being accused of sexually assaulting a 20-year-old. That suspension was eventually reduced to four games.

Goodell said, unlike Roethlisberger, Rice had not had off-field problems before.

“If it’s a first offense, someone who’s had a strong background of being very responsible in the community … then we would take that into account,” Goodell said. “And when there’s a pattern, we also take that into account.”

Goodell also stressed that Rice promised to speak out against domestic violence.

“What I want to see is success stories,” Goodell said. “I want to see people, when they make a mistake, I want to see them take responsibility, be accountable for it and make a difference going forward. I hope that’s what Ray Rice is going to do.”

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