Goodell on NFL, domestic abuse: ‘I got it wrong…now I will get it right’
NEW YORK (AP) -- Commissioner Roger Goodell says the NFL wants to implement new personal conduct policies by the Super Bowl.
At a news conference Friday, Goodell made his first public statements in more than a week about the rash of NFL players involved in domestic violence. He did not announce any specific changes, but said he has not considered resigning.
"Unfortunately, over the past several weeks, we have seen all too much of the NFL doing wrong," he said. "That starts with me."
The league has faced increasing criticism that it has not acted quickly or emphatically enough concerning the domestic abuse cases.
The commissioner reiterated that he botched the handling of the Ray Rice case.
"The same mistakes can never be repeated," he said.
Goodell now oversees all personal conduct cases, deciding guilt and penalties.
The commissioner and some NFL teams have been heavily criticized for lenient or delayed punishment of Ray Rice, Adrian Peterson and other players involved in recent domestic violence cases. Less than three weeks into the season, five such cases have made headlines, the others involving Greg Hardy, Ray McDonald and Jonathan Dwyer.
Vikings star running back Peterson, Carolina defensive end Hardy and Arizona running back Dwyer are on a special commissioner's exemption list and are being paid while they go through the legal process. McDonald, a defensive end for San Francisco, continues to practice and play while being investigated on suspicion of domestic violence.
As these cases have come to light, such groups as the National Organization of Women and league partners and sponsors have come down hard on the NFL to be more responsive in dealing with them. Congress also is watching to see how the NFL reacts.
In response to the criticism, the NFL announced it is partnering with a domestic violence hotline and a sexual violence resource center.
Goodell also said in a memo to the clubs late Thursday that within the next 30 days, all NFL and team personnel will participate in education sessions on domestic violence and sexual assault. The memo said the league will work with the union in providing the "information and tools to understand and recognize domestic violence and sexual assault."
The league will provide financial, operational and promotional support to the National Domestic Violence Hotline and the National Sexual Violence Resource Center.
"These commitments will enable both the hotline and NSVRC to help more people affected by domestic violence and sexual assault," Goodell said in the memo.
The National Domestic Violence Hotline provides domestic violence victims and survivors access to a national network of resources and shelters. It is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week in 170 languages. Goodell noted that the hotline received 84 percent more calls from Sept. 8-15, and the organization said more than 50 percent of those calls went unanswered because of lack of staff.
"The hotline will add 25 full-time advocates over the next few weeks that will result in an additional 750 calls a day being answered," he said.
NSVRC supports sexual violence coalitions across the United States. The NFL's initial support will be directed toward state coalitions to provide additional resources to sexual assault hotlines.
Procter & Gamble is canceling an on-field breast cancer awareness promotion it had been planning with the National Football League, the latest sponsor to respond to the NFL's growing problems.
The consumer products maker is the latest major sponsor, following PepsiCo and Anheuser-Busch, to show concern over the NFL's handling of domestic abuse allegations against several players.
Women make up 35 percent of the average audience of 17.4 million during a regular season NFL game, and the NFL has made it a point to reach out to women in recent years.
The league has made Breast Cancer Awareness month in October a particular focus. Part of its NFL Pink "Crucial Catch" campaign, in partnership with the American Cancer Society, features players, coaches and referees wearing pink game apparel, on-field pink ribbon stencils, special game balls and pink coins.
P&G's Crest brand had been working on a program with players from each of the NFL's 32 teams to wear pink mouthguards and participate in other activities.
But on Friday the Cincinnati-based company said Crest would no longer be part of on-field activities and joined the chorus of sponsors voicing disapproval of the NFL's actions. It remains a sponsor but said it will "determine future actions as needed."
"The brand has decided to cancel on-field activation with NFL teams," said spokesman Paul Fox in a statement. "Domestic violence is completely unacceptable and we have strongly urged the NFL to take swift and decisive action to address this issue... Our decision to cancel this on field activity was related to this ongoing issue."
The company will still donate $100,000 to the American Cancer society as planned and said breast-cancer awareness is a "critically important program to support women and their health."
The NFL said that the sixth year of the "Crucial Catch" program will proceed.
"We understand the ways the last week have impacted our partners, including Crest," the NFL said in a statement. "Players will still have the option to wear pink gear, including mouthguards, as planned, this year."
The league and its teams are under fire over their handling of several players with domestic violence allegations against them. An investigation has been launched into whether NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell knew about or saw a video of Baltimore Ravens player Ray Rice hitting his then-fiancee earlier than he said.
Most major sponsors have voiced disapproval, with Budweiser beer maker Anheuser-Busch saying it is "increasingly concerned" about the situation.
On Thursday PepsiCo CEO Indra Nooyi made a double-edged statement on the NFL's problems handling domestic violence, calling some players' behavior "repugnant" while also noting that she believes Commissioner Roger Goodell is "a man of integrity."
Manish Tripathi, assistant marketing professor at Emory University, said it's not yet clear whether P&G's move will be an isolated incident or open the floodgates for others.
"You're talking now about a specific promotion or campaign geared toward women," he said. "Anything that is negatively associated with NFL right now gets exacerbated with a campaign like that."