The NFL dropped the ball on the Ray Rice suspension. And the league is finally owning up to it.
The NFL has now instituted a domestic violence disciplinary policy. For a first-time offender, the punishment is a six-game suspension. If it happens a second time, that player is banned for life. Players will have the opportunity to apply for reinstatement after a year without guarantee that they will be let back in the league.
NFL commissioner Roger Goodell sent a letter to 32 teams today detailing the policy. Here's a key excerpt from it:
"We allowed our standards to fall below where they should be and lost an important opportunity to emphasize our strong stance on a critical issue and the effective programs we have in place. My disciplinary decision led the public to question our sincerity, our commitment, and whether we understood the toll that domestic violence inflicts on so many families. I take responsibility both for the decision and for ensuring that our actions in the future properly reflect our values. I didn't get it right."
Read that last sentence again: "I didn't get it right."
Rice would now be considered a first-time offender under this policy. He's extremely lucky that all he got was a two-game suspension. Consider this new policy the Ray Rice Rule.
I wrote before that the Rice situation would need to lead to a change in how the league acts on this. This is a great first step. While Goodell fumbled the Rice's situation, the NFL has seemingly learned from its blunder and knows that it has to take a tougher stance on domestic violence in the future.