Former NFL Players association president Kevin Mawae was surprised to hear about the NFL’s new domestic violence policy yesterday.
Not because he’s opposed to tougher standards, but because he didn’t expect commissioner Roger Goodell to admit he was wrong in the giving Ray Rice just a two-game suspension for knocking his then-fiancee unconscious.
The new policy includes a six-game suspension for first time offenders, and a possible lifetime ban for seconds. The league’s policy also includes the consideration of mitigating factors which could reduce the punishment.
“My initial reaction is, ‘Really?‘ ” Mawae told Jim Corbett of USA Today. “I can’t believe he admitted he got something wrong. With that whole Ray Rice situation, it was a pretty common thought that it was a lenient sentence when guys get suspended six games for far lesser issues. . . . For him to backtrack, my question is what does this do for Ray Rice? Are they going to impose a stronger penalty on him? Or is it ‘Oops, our mistake. But going forward we’re going to be more strict.’
“I think it’s the right move as far as making guys accountable. There’s no reason to physically abuse your spouse, your girlfriend or a woman. That to me is intolerable.”
The NFL isn’t getting into specifics about the new plan, and whether Rice will be considered a second-time offender, or where Panthers defensive end Greg Hardy (convicted, pending a scheduled November appeal) stand in the system.
But having been through a lockout and watching the league dig in on certain points, Mawae was pleased to see the flexibility from the NFL. Goodell had previously cited “precedent” when defending the Rice punishment.
“Domestic violence is intolerable for anybody, whether you’re a football player or not,” Mawae said. “I think anybody would say Ray Rice got off with a slap on the wrist by comparison to less major issues that got far heavier punishment during Goodell’s tenure.
“I don’t have a problem with the six-game suspension for domestic violence. I like the idea of mitigating circumstances. There’s a difference if you and your wife got in an argument, and you nudged her out the door and between knocking your wife out in an elevator. . . . And I’m all for your ability to appeal for reinstatement after a year if you’ve done your counseling and looked at your own personal demons.”
And to Mawae’s trained eye, that’s in a way also what Goodell has done, realizing a mistake and trying to make amends for it.