NFL commissioner Roger Goodell announced an overhaul of the league’s domestic violence policy Thursday afternoon, which includes a lifetime ban for repeat offenders.
Effective immediately, the league will suspend any player for at least six games upon a first offense of the NFL’s personal conduct policy, according to the letter. The penalty for a second offense is banishment, with the possibility of reinstatement after a year. The policies apply to all NFL personnel.
Prompted by criticism following a lenient penalty doled out to Baltimore Ravens running back Ray Rice that many believed did not fit the alleged crime, Goodell released a letter and memo to each team owner, according to ESPN’s Adam Schefter, who posted it on Facebook.
"I didn’t get it right," Goodell wrote.
Ray Rice was arrested in February on aggravated assault charges after police said they had video footage of him knocking out his then-fiancé. Surveillance tapes showed him dragging her out of an elevator in Atlantic City, according to Think Progress. He received a two-game suspension from the NFL and was not incarcerated because of his first-time offender status.
In the letter, Goodell admits fault on behalf of the NFL and accepts responsibility for the criticism, though the note does not name Rice outright.
"Although the NFL is celebrated for what happens on the field, we must be equally vigilant in what we do off the field," the letter reads. "At times, however, and despite our best efforts, we fall short of our goals. We clearly did so in response to a recent indictment of domestic violence."
The letter also says the league will promote "policies of respect for women both within and outside of the workplace."
Goodell details other steps the league is taking to educate players and personnel about resources and support and how to identify risk factors to ensure those who need help receive it.
Ray Rice and Roger Goodell were trending on Twitter within an hour of the news breaking, though reactions from users on the social platform varied.
Don’t think #NFL changes domestic abuse policy if not for public/media outcry.— Josh Moore (@4for4_Josh) August 28, 2014
Roger heard you, Merica.— Robert Klemko (@RobertKlemko) August 28, 2014
Union was informed about the NFL's new domestic violence policy. It's under personal conduct, so the commissioner could act unilaterally.— Albert Breer (@AlbertBreer) August 28, 2014
also, whether the punishments are appropriate or not, this is transparently reactionary. i’m not confusing this the nfl actually caring.— Bomani Jones (@bomani_jones) August 28, 2014
In fairness, if the criminal justice system wasn’t totally mishandling domestic violence so regularly, NFL policy would be irrelevant.— Ryan Nanni (@celebrityhottub) August 28, 2014