CANTON, Ohio — NFL commissioner Roger Goodell defended the league's two-game suspension of Ray Rice on Friday, commenting publicly for the first time since his controversial decision last week created a firestorm on social media.
Goodell talked to several reporters at the Pro Football Hall of Fame as part of the enshrinement weekend in Canton, Ohio.
Goodell said that the length of the ban is "consistent" with other punishments issued by the league.
"We have a very firm policy that domestic violence is not acceptable in the NFL, and there are consequences for that," Goodell said. "Obviously, when we are going through the process of evaluating an issue and whether there were be discipline, you look at all of the facts that are available to us."
Rice was arrested Feb. 15, after he allegedly struck his then-fiancée, and now wife, Janay Palmer unconscious during an altercation at an Atlantic City hotel. Video surfaced online showing Rice dragging an unconscious Palmer out of an elevator.
Rice, a seventh-year running back with the Baltimore Ravens, pleaded not guilty to a third-degree charge of aggravated assault and avoided trial by being accepted into a pretrial intervention program in May.
"I take into account all of the information before I make a decision on what the discipline will be," Goodell said. "In this case, there was no discipline by the criminal justice system.
"They put him that diversionary program, and I had seen Ray after that. I had the opportunity to hear from him, hear from his wife and hear from other people that he had brought into the hearing process, and I put all of that together to make a decision."
Goodell fielded questions from reporters about the widespread reaction since announcing that Rice would be suspended for the first two games of the upcoming regular season and fined three game checks..
"We have to remain consistent," he said. "We can't just make up the discipline. It has be consistent with other cases, and it was in this matter."
On Thursday, Rice apologized to his wife, his 2-year-old daughter, his mother and children wearing No. 27 Baltimore Ravens jerseys.
"My actions that night were totally inexcusable," Rice said. "That night, I just replay over and over in my head. That's not me. My actions are inexcusable. That's something I have to live with the rest of my life. The pain I'm talking about every day is, my daughter is 2 years old now. One day she's going to know the power of Google."
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