There seems to be a general consensus that the NFL did not come down hard enough on Ray Rice when it suspended the Baltimore Ravens running back two games for allegedly hitting his now-wife Janay Palmer.
Commissioner Roger Goodell defended the decision Friday, speaking a day before the Pro Football Hall of Fame induction ceremony in Canton, Ohio.
“We've dealt with it in a serious manner, and we're very confident that this young man understands where he is and what he needs to do going forward,” Goodell said. “I think what's important here is Ray has taken responsibility for this. He's been accountable for his actions. He recognizes he made a horrible mistake that is unacceptable by his standards, by our standards. And he's got to work to re-establish himself.”
Goodell said the fact that Rice had no prior history of assault was key to the length of the punishment.
“If it's a first offense, someone who's had a strong background of being very responsible in the community, doing the right things and not violating other policies or anything else that reflect poorly on the NFL, then we would take that into account,” Goodell said. “And when there's a pattern, we also take that into account on the other side.”
He added: “We just can't make up the discipline. It has to be consistent with other cases. And it was in this matter.”
Goodell acknowledged the outcry against the decision but remained firm that he and the league had done the right thing.
“You have to respond to facts here. You have a lot of people voicing their opinions,” Goodell said. “But I think it's important to understand that this is a young man who made a terrible mistake.”
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