The National Football League on Wednesday unveiled a revised personal conduct policy that sets standard, six-game suspensions for domestic abuse and sexual assault violations.
The new policy also takes away some of Commissioner Roger Goodell’s disciplinary power. Goodell took a substantial amount of criticism from the press and the public in the wake of this year’s Ray Rice domestic abuse case and the Adrian Peterson child abuse cases, in part because of perceived inaction on his part.
In a press conference, Goodell said:
We want to make sure that we do what’s in the best interests of the NFL long-term, that we are able to have a system that reflects the values, the standards of what we’re all about. And that’s why we put a lot of focus over the last four months on what’s best for the NFL.
The NFL Players Association piped up to say the new policy may not be what’s best for its members, however. The association claims it wasn’t given the “professional courtesy” of reviewing the policy, though NFL attorneys say there have been numerous meetings over the past weeks.
“Their unilateral decision and conduct today is the only thing that has been consistent over the past few months,” the association’s statement, which was posted to the NBC Sports website, among others, continued.
Other critics of the league continue to call for Goodell to step down in spite of the changes in the new policy and the NFL’s effort to reach out to domestic abuse and sexual assault experts. (Among its new hires was Lisa Friel, formerly the head of the Sex Crimes Prosecution Unit in the New York County District Attorney’s Office.)
Nita Chaudhary, co-founder of women’s advocacy group UltraViolet, told Bloomberg, “While the policy itself may be a step in the right direction, leadership matters. And Roger Goodell is no leader.”
The NFL posted a flowchart of its new policy to its website to demonstrate how investigations and punishments will be handled more systematically, by independent investigators, police and a new Conduct Committee.
Goodell was roundly criticized when Rice was given only a two-game suspension after video surfaced of the player punching his then-fiancée in a hotel elevator. Goodell later imposed an indefinite suspension on Rice, which was lifted on appeal by the players’ union. An independent arbitrator called the punishment “arbitrary.”
The new system is intended to avoid misfires such as those, both of which have led to PR problems for the league. What do you think, PR Daily readers? Will the still-angered parties involved come to accept the new policy? Does it help ameliorate the PR damage the league has suffered this year?