Stung by public reaction to the National Football League’s coddling of admitted domestic abuser Ray Rice, a member of the Super Bowl champion Ravens, Roger Goodell, commissioner of the NFL, today confessed that “I didn’t get it right” and decreed that he would inflict severe punishment on any NFL employee who engaged in domestic abuse. Under the new rules, a first offense earns an automatic six-game suspension, while a second offense brings a lifetime ban from the league. To be considered an offense, Goodell explained, an act would not require conviction in court proceedings, but would be judged by him under the NFL’s personal conduct policy.
In Goodell’s earlier finding, Ray Rice’s domestic violence—he beat his fiancée senseless and it was caught on videotape—had cost him a fine and a two-game suspension. That “disciplinary decision led the public to question our sincerity, our commitment, and whether we understood the toll that domestic violence inflicts on many families,” said Goodell today, while claiming that now the NFL does understand that “domestic violence and sexual assault are unacceptable. We clearly must do a better job of addressing these incidents in the NFL. And we will.” But NFL players are paid millions of dollars for their violent services; and their off-field violence, unfortunately, reflects violence in society as a whole. Will the new policy make a difference in the NFL and in America?