New York (AFP) – Embattled National Football League commissioner Roger Goodell on Friday promised to put the sport’s “house in order” amid a firestorm over the NFL’s handling of off-field violence involving players.
Goodell nevertheless said he had not considered stepping down over allegations of domestic violence and child abuse involving players — while admitting the response by the league and individual teams had been less than ideal.
“We will get our house in order,” Goodell told reporters.
The NFL plans to set up a new personal conduct committee and draft new rules for the league’s players, which Goodell said he hoped would be in place by the season-ending Super Bowl, which takes place in early 2015.
“Nothing is off the table,” he said.
Goodell has come in particular criticism over his handling of Ray Rice, the running back who helped the Baltimore Ravens to a Super Bowl title after the 2012 season.
The commissioner initially banned Rice for two games over a February incident in a casino elevator in which Rice knocked Janay Palmer — then his fiancee and now his wife — unconscious.
After a video of the actual punch was posted online in August, Rice was promptly cut by the Ravens and banned from the league indefinitely by Goodell — a punishment the player’s union is appealing.
“The same mistakes can never be repeated,” Goodell
The commissioner insisted he had the support of team owners and, when asked if he had considered resigning, responded: “I have not. I’m focused on doing my job, and doing the best to my ability.”
The furor over Rice was followed by similar NFL vacillation in the cases of Carolina Panthers defensive end Greg Hardy — convicted of assaulting a former girlfriend and threatening to kill her — and Minnesota Vikings running back Adrian Peterson, who has been charged with child abuse in Texas after allegedly whipping his four-year-old son.
The cases have put fans — and sponsors — on edge.
Hardy played the first game of the season for the Panthers after launching an appeal of his conviction.
The Vikings had planned to welcome Peterson back to action after he missed one game.
But amid a growing public uproar, both teams negotiated deals with their players to place them on paid leave as their legal cases proceed.
Former FBI director Robert Mueller will lead an independent investigation into the NFL’s handling of the Rice case, and Goodell previously announced the hiring of three domestic violence experts as senior advisers to the league.
Forbes magazine estimated in August that the average worth of the 32 NFL teams is $1.43 billion — the highest in 17 years.
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