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NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell, his league consumed by a crisis over its handling of players accused of domestic violence, pledged Friday to “get it right” and to push for change in how society treats the problem.
He said he has not considered resigning.
Speaking at a hotel in Midtown Manhattan, Goodell announced that the league had entered into long-term partnerships with two anti-assault organizations, the National Domestic Violence Hotline and the National Sexual Violence Resource Center.
The commissioner told reporters that he made a mistake when he originally suspended Ray Rice of the Baltimore Ravens for only two games, and in how he investigated an altercation between Rice and his fiancée in a casino elevator in February.
“I got it wrong in the handling of the Ray Rice matter, and I’m sorry for that,” he said. “I got it wrong on a number of levels, from the process that I led to the decision that I reached. But now I will get it right and do whatever is necessary to accomplish that.”
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He also said that the NFL would establish a special committee to review rules on personal conduct, and he asked for the help of the players union and outside groups. It suggested that Goodell, who has been criticized for acting as judge and jury in punishing players, was relinquishing some power.
“We strongly, strongly condemn and will punish behavior that is totally unacceptable,” Goodell said.
He said that he believes he has the support of NFL owners, and that he has not considered stepping aside. The National Organization for Women and other groups have called for his resignation.
“I understand when people are critical of your performance, but we have a lot of work to do,” he said. “That’s my focus.”
Goodell did not clear up the confusion over when league officials first saw a second videotape of the Rice altercation, which showed him knocking his fiancée unconscious.
The commissioner has said that league officials first saw it Sept. 8, when TMZ Sports published it. But The Associated Press, quoting a law enforcement official and citing a voicemail from a league phone number, reported that the NFL had received it months earlier.
Goodell, asked about the discrepancy, said that it would be cleared up by Robert Mueller, the former FBI director hired by the league to investigate its handling of the Rice matter.
The press conference was briefly disrupted by a protester.
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