Roger Goodell firmly admits he got it wrong when it came to handing down discipline for Baltimore Ravens running back Ray Rice for a domestic abuse incident this offseason.
But despite reworking the conduct policy to lead to harsher discipline in regards to domestic incidents, that doesn’t mean Goodell is in a hurry to pass judgement on 49ers defensive lineman Ray McDonald.
McDonald was arrested this week on a domestic abuse incident in California. McDonald says “the truth will come out” and that he’s “a good-hearted person” in regards to the allegations.
The 49ers intend to allow due process to take its course in the legal system. Goodell echoed those sentiments Wednesday is speaking after a Play 60 event in Renton, Washington ahead of Thursday night’s season opener between the Seattle Seahawks and Green Bay Packers.
“I think the first thing you have to do is let the process play out and get the facts and make sure you understand all the circumstances. We don’t right now. We obviously are following it very closely,” Goodell said.
Goodell said the league will let the legal system reach its conclusion before determining whether to levy any discipline toward McDonald.
“Yeah, I think that was very clear in the policy, not only charged, but we would wait for the legal system to complete it’s process, particularly in any case on a first-case [offense]. That’s something that is very important to us,” Goodell said.
With the league intent on waiting for cases to travel through the length of the court system before assessing discipline, it could add incentives for any players facing possible discipline to draw out the legal process as much as possible, and to potentially bypass a lesser plea deal in the sake of going to trial and fighting the accusations fully.
If McDonald is proven to have committed a crime in this instance, he could very well become the first player to be slapped with a six-game suspension under the conduct policy. However, it appears it will be some time still before Goodell would have to levy that punishment.