NFL institutes new policy on domestic violence with 6-game ban for first offense

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The NFL was roundly criticized for suspending Ravens running back Ray Rice two games under the personal conduct policy after Rice was charged with assaulting his then-fiance and current wife during an incident at an Atlantic City hotel in February.

The league was also criticized for being tone deaf in their response to the criticism, but it seems someone in the league office was paying attention. According to multiple reports, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell sent a letter to owners on Thursday outlining much stiffer penalties for domestic violence and making the rare admission of fault by saying he screwed up when disciplining Rice.

“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,” Goodell wrote, per Albert Breer of NFL Media.

Under the new policy, which falls under the personal conduct policy overseen by Goodell, players would be suspended at least six games for a first offense and would face a lifetime ban for a second. The letter also specifies that the new penalties apply to all NFL personnel, not just players.

There’s still some questions to sort out about what will qualify as a first offense (and whether it will apply to cases already in progress before the adoption of the policy, like the one involving Panthers defensive end Greg Hardy) in regard to the way charges are handled in the legal system, but it’s a quick and significant turnaround from the league’s previous attempts to defend Goodell’s decision on Rice and one that brings penalties for acts of domestic violence closer to where many feel they should have been all along.

108 responses to “NFL institutes new policy on domestic violence with 6-game ban for first offense

  1. Im all for it, my only question is how are they going to regulate it? Because (disagree with me or not) women cry wolf ALOT when it comes to these types of things. Because even if a guy does get convinced, it could all still be a lie. Gonna be a sticky situation.

  2. I’m sure most people will still complain about how Rice was let off easy. But I like to think the NFL learned from it’s mistake a moved to correct it.

  3. Still too light… 8 games should be minimum and escalate to Year suspension second violation and lifetime ban for the third.

  4. So they did the right thing and ammended his suspension right?

    Oh wiat this is the NFL where they have no clue on how to properly suspend players

    So the guy who drank a few beers is 4 games the girlfriend/wife beater gets 2

    Omaha…

  5. Good. Though I am curious as to whether this was vetted with the union or not. They should be smart and accept this, but this could be called a change to the CBA that was not negotiated.

  6. That sound you hear is half of the Ravens team throwing their helmets to the ground and kicking lockers in disgust. How are they suppose to field a team when most of the team is suspended at any given time?

  7. 6 games for a first offense and a lifetime ban for the second? Domestic Violence is horrible, but that’s a steep penalty ladder.

    Sure hope that everyone that gets found guilty in a court of law is actually guilty of what they are accused of. That never happens though, right?

  8. Ray Rice will get off and away with it…after the policy change…

    Josh Gordon on the other hand…will benefit the opposite…and get screwed for a ridiculous testing policy i.e. – how can the same urine sample test positive and negative????!!!????!!!

  9. Still have it wrong you Goober. If you can up the suspension from your discretion to 6 games, you also could have used better discretion for Gordon after passing 70 drug tests, and having one sample barely over and one under. You just hurt your case by using discretion. Meanwhile a guy that beats his wife still doesn’t get punished as harsh as a weed smoker. This is a bad look for you considering you still don’t get it. Maybe if your daughter came home bruised up and missing teeth compared to wanting to eat everything in the fridge, watch a movie and go to bed you would understand.

  10. That means Josh Gordon can only get 3 KOs before equaling his suspension. Make it all one year, period. Including for DUIs and illegal drugs. Don’t keep them away from their team…their life support…but keep them out of football that long. You will have much fewer violations, less relapses because guys can still be around what’s important to them and get some peer pressure to stay in line and stay in shape, and happier players overall, happier fans. This isn’t hard to figure out.

  11. The NFL is such a joke.

    Of course these new rules apply AFTER Rice has already been sentenced.

    It’s a good thing he was caught on tape beating his girlfriend. Had he only been accused of assault, he might have gotten 4 games.

  12. Pandora’s Box is NOW OPEN! This is a League wide Policy that could burn Coaches and Owners. Some Women/ People need to learn in life not to judge a persons response. Meaning don’t Slap or spit on someone and get Mad when they Kick your @&$! Cause had you not don’t it. There would not be a response to judge.

  13. If the league suspends Greg Hardy for six games, I would sue so hard because Ray Rice only got two games, now if the league extends Rice to six games then all is fair otherwise. ex post facto is dumb.

  14. “….our actions in the future properly reflect our values. I didn’t get it right,”

    I’ve not been on his side a lot lately….I respect that he put this out there. Well done.

  15. Now stop taking elite players such as Josh Gordon and Daryl Washington off the field for a complete year for smoking pot, which doesn’t give players a performance edge, but does give them an alternative to kidney-destroying Ibuprofen and other painkillers when dealing with aches and soreness.

    How does the league benefit by making these players sit out a year?

  16. I have known and seen too many men lied on by women and/or had the situation instigated by women to take every accusation as fact. As men, did you know that if your girlfriend/wife begins damaging/destroying your home (i.e. breaking the flat screen and anything she can touch) you can’t hold her to restrain her and keep her from doing further damage or that would be considered kidnapping? Did you know that? Or that your wife/soon-to-be-ex can come back to the house while you are gone and take or destroy anything and you have no protection or recourse? It is because of this, and all of the men who have been lied on that I hope that the NFL waits for the law to run its course first to determine if there is actually smoke and fire or just a bad smell.

  17. “Good new policy – said no Ravens fan, ever.”

    It’s good policy.

    Signed,

    a Ravens fan

    I just would like to know if the policy will be used in cases when formal charges are made and the player goes through the entire legal process. The league usually allows for the legal system to do its job first before it makes any suspension of a player under the personal conduct policy. If charges were eventually dropped like they were in the Ray Rice case, would the league still suspend the player?

  18. A lifetime ban is pretty damn excessive unless it is a full on situation where he just went and beat the crap out of his woman like that guy did with the porn star. In a situation like that then yes, a lifetime ban is called for.

    What if a woman is just smacking a guy and he slaps her hard in self defense after taking a bunch of hits to his face? Does that mean a lifetime ban? The legal system will side with the woman no matter if she instigated it (the legal system ignores that men can be abused) so if the league goes off that then the guy is screwed.

    Seems this could get abused and let women go to town on abusing their football playing men.

  19. Rodger Goodel is an idiot. The 2 game suspension wasn’t the biggest deal about Ray Rice. It’s that along with the slap on the wrist everyone with a comment only talked about Ray Rice. There are so many people dealing with domestic abuse and how women are treated but let’s just focus on Ray Rice’s recovery and how he’s a “great guy who made a terrible mistake.” Could have focused on Women;s recovery centers, donating his game checks to helping abused women, but no, let’s just defend Ray Rice, and fire anyone who does it again.

  20. Sounds good but wouldn’t the union have some say in this? At least as how the process would be used and the charges vetted?

  21. Greg Hardy should NOT be the first recipient of this rule change, Rice should be. He needs to be held accountable for what he did, Goodell can easily fix this, and should. Let it be now known as the Ray Rice Rule. Live with that, raven fans.

  22. It’s never good when you get a rule named after you, but I guess Ray Rice is officially in that club now.

  23. kingmj4891 says:

    “If the league suspends Greg Hardy for six games, I would sue so hard because Ray Rice only got two games, now if the league extends Rice to six games then all is fair otherwise. ex post facto is dumb.”

    I don’t think Hardy’s fate has been determined yet, but the rumors are that he’ll be “grandfathered” in the old policy, so he wouldn’t be suspended based upon this new system. The real question is whether a future assault charge made against him would result in a lifetime ban.

  24. Doesn’t matter whether Ray Rice is suspended or he plays. He is washed up, and will be no help to his team.

  25. I hope there is some element of due process (i.e., need a conviction or guilty plea). Anyone can make an accusation, especially when dealing with two people in a relationship.

  26. Ther are times when both parties should be arrested and are arrested. How does that play out in the penalty formula?

    Something needs to be done in lieu of the joke of a ban for Rice but a lifetime ban is a serious stretch.

    Should be case by case. Some are horrific others are not. Rice deserved more than 6 and had that been a 2nd then lifetime works.

  27. So what happens if the charges are dropped or lessened? Since a player wasnt “convicted” does he get a pass? I see a few players paying their way out of this to settle.

    This is just for show and will never be enforced.

  28. You can hit women all you want, but if you hit another world class athlete, who plays a sport in which he expects to get hit, and has a ton of padding on to protect him from those hits too hard, than that is a year suspension for the coach.

    -Roger Goodell

  29. Typical knee-jerk reaction from a hypersensitive NFL commissioner.

    While I have no problem with the NFL cracking down on this, the term “domestic violence” covers a very large range of offenses, from one shove or one slap to an outright physical pummeling that threatens the life of the woman. To suggest that this entire range of abuses should be treated with equal punishment is highly questionable.

    God help the player who gets into a verbal fight with his girl-friend, who then ends up filing an exaggerated claim of domestic violence out of vengeance. She holds his entire career in her hands, she’s going to know that. That is a LOT of power.

  30. lbcoach34 says: Aug 28, 2014 2:55 PM

    Ray Rice will get off and away with it…after the policy change…

    Josh Gordon on the other hand…will benefit the opposite…and get screwed for a ridiculous testing policy i.e. – how can the same urine sample test positive and negative????!!!????!!!
    ====================================
    Just stop with the Josh Gordon bit already! The NFL rules are clear, if you play in the NFL you CANNOT SMOKE POT…period. He did it, multiple times, and I don’t give a fat rats azz how much or how little was in his system. It was in his system and it shouldn’t have been. He screwed the pooch on this, no one but himself to blame. Now he has to pay the consequences! He’s an idiot of epic proportions! He knew this was a possibility if he smoked dope and he did it anyway. Playing in the NFL is a privilege, not a right. It’s time these athletes figure this out!

  31. Roger just put a lot of power in the hands of these NFL wives and girlfriends. Can’t wait to see the first case of one of NFL groupies extorting a player. 6 game checks is a lot of money even for a rookie.

  32. Knee-jerk reaction from bad publicity. The plan sounds good until it is actually used. There are way too many variables. Did they define specific what they mean by “domestic” or “violence”? He said a 1st offense warrants 6 games. He also said that mitigating factors will be considered. How can he do both? Especially when this policy is based solely on public outcry–from people that do not have access to the facts.

    The variables dictate a case-by-case policy is needed (already have that) because self-defense still falls under violence. The NFL will be worse off with this policy. It sounds good, and nobody believes domestic violence is appropriate, but when the lawyers start picking apart the policy when their guy is suspended it will get messy. Brian Bank’s story should have been enough to see that blanket policies are usually a not a good idea.

  33. This new rule only applies to 31 teams. If your a Ravens player, Roger will get you off. Because that’s what he’s done for ALL Ravens players when they do something wrong.

  34. How exactly does this correct the Ray Rice decision?

    He, somehow, miscalculated public reactions to a two-game suspension and his unwillingness to explain how he came to that decision. To address his errors without actually addressing his errors (and with the added bonus dog-whistle “strikes” narrative) he creates nebulous rule. Good lawyering.

  35. I think Rice should end up getting and extra 4 games added to the two to make things fair.

    These changes should have come much sooner! How about amending the DWI rule as well to something much harsher as these people are putting lives in danger.

    P.S. to all the steeler fans bringing up Ray Rice… You do realize James Harrison punched his wife (and threatened to kill her) back in 2008 right? Wonder how many games he got?

    Quit throwing stones hypocrites!

  36. Goodell has the cart in front of the horse because policies are not established until the details are first defined, so at this juncture this announcement by the NFL is nothing but a pr move.

    That a first time offender only receives a 6-game suspension says the NFL still doesn’t comprehend the seriousness of domestic violence. A first time offense should be at least merit a suspension for half the regular season and also include hefty monetary fines and post-season play, if applicable. Second offense should be lifetime ban and even higher monetary fines.
    The policy needs to be as close as possible to two strikes and you’re out. Period.

  37. The baltimore ravens showed their true colors by not punishing ray rice more for his crimes.

  38. Goodell has the cart in front of the horse because policies are not established until the details are first defined, so at this juncture this announcement by the NFL is nothing but a pr move.

    A lot of young kids see athletes as role models, which is evidenced by the way kids mimic athlete’s behavioral traits and style. Domestic violence is wholly unacceptable, so the policy needs to be harsh, escalate fast and communicate the stiff consequences of such actions. Period.

    That a first time offender only receives a 6-game suspension says the NFL still doesn’t comprehend the seriousness of domestic violence. A first time offense should at least merit a suspension for half the regular season, forced time away from the team, also include hefty monetary fines, and if applicable exclude the offender from post-season play + compensation. Second offense should be lifetime ban and inordinately stiff monetary fines.

    It’s also very disappointing how NFL owners have been essentially silent on this issue, especially after Rice’s punishment was a slap on the wrist. So much for owners having an upstanding character.

  39. “‘I didn’t get it right,’ Goodell wrote.” If he genuinely feels that way, if he sincerely believes this, then well done. Sure, a bit late, but still, better late than never. However, the skeptic in me is unsure if he made the call for the right reason, or if he is simply pandering to the masses. Yes, in the grand scheme of this situation, it doesn’t really matter; the right thing has been done, but did he do this out of principle or because he was tired of taking a beating in the press because of the manner in which he handled this one? Leaders cannot pander if they want to be truly effective, and those who do pander generally do so from lack of principles. We’ll see when he faces the next true test of his leadership.

  40. Rice will get cheered for his first game as he did in preseason.things must not have been as bad as eveyone is saying.no one on here knows what happened truthfully.(so i guess big ben has rule to)its over time to move on!!!

  41. Wait what? Any discipline that was added, had to be done as a letter to the CBA. Once the CBA, is signed and discipline is described in the CBA. Isn’t that it?

    How come the Union has come out and said anything?

    Do the players even have a union anymore?

  42. This new rule only applies to 31 teams. If your a Ravens player, Roger will get you off. Because that’s what he’s done for ALL Ravens players when they do something wrong.

    So true

  43. Baltimore always seem to get a good deal from the NFL. Always.
    The Commissioner has admitted a mistake by being too lenient re the Ray Rice case. Why can’t he go back and suspend him a further 4 weeks?
    It would be appropriate and probably well received.
    Roger could turn a PR disaster into a great triumph. Sorry Ray – you get what you deserve.

  44. The only reason you are crying about Ray Rice is that you fear his team, perhaps the Ravens are on your schedule? Bunch a wussy’s!!

  45. Lifetime ban for second offense seems a bit harsh. I would have done 1-year suspension for the second offense, then lifetime ban the third time. Anyways, I’m glad the NFL changed this.

  46. how stupid does the NFL think people are? this is simply after the fact gobbledygook to cover for the fact the NFL failed on the domestic abuse question.

  47. Ray Rice knocks his then-fiance unconscious on video and gets booted for only 2 weeks.

    Matt Prater drinks a few beers then gets slapped with a 6-weeks suspension.

    The NFL and NFLPA are both disconnected from realities of equity.

  48. told ya so, told ya so. i told you everybody after rice was gonna get hammered. d washington is probable out of the nfl. doing his year for drugs and now this another six games tacked on maybe more.

  49. Does this mean that Big Ben and Brandon Marshall would of been banned for life by now. Or the fan is on a guilty conviction. They should be more clear on this.
    Goodell is reaching here, and I will laugh if he has a domestic violence issue.

  50. So “our values” change when public opinion doesn’t agree? You have some pretty flimsy values there Roger.
    Pretty flimsy.

  51. So Rice gets a free ride>? Goodell is an idiot! Meanwhile, the pro bowl kicker of the AZ Cards is down for 4 games for having a few beers at his house, following a DUI in 2010. NFL recently signed a $1.3 billion deal with Budweiser. Oh the hypocrisy!

  52. Too late, they’ve already declined an opportunity to stand against domestic violence.

    But that’s the way sports owners (because Goodell is just a puppet) work. Donald Sterling is racist? Fine until the public opinion starts hating on it. Ray Rice is a wife-beater? OK until the hate storm comes. Aaron Hernadez is a murderer? It would be OK if murder someone wasn’t the worst criminal offense.

  53. “Ray Rice didn’t even do nothing! Why y’all still talking about him.?”

    I think the fact that he “didn’t even do nothing” is why we are having this conversation.

  54. 18 game season
    14 team playoff
    A team in London
    Defenseless player rules
    Eliminating the extra point
    Draft lottery
    Now this while Rice still gets only 2 games.

    What a joke Goodell is.

  55. So if Rice does it again,will he be banned for life or does he get a pass for the KO punch? I don’t think this was very well thought out as far as that incident is concerned. If it was up to me,that was his first offense…next one,he’s gone.

  56. Players today are as dysfunctional, narcissitic and stupid as ever.

    There must be way way more

    drunkedness
    drugs
    steroids
    beatings
    infidelity

    that go unreported. The NFL has a huge image problem, even the quality of fans attending games has gotten worse over the years.

    I barely can watch more than a half of any game anymore before turning it off.

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