Fierce criticism of the NFL has come from the White House,
women's rights groups, fans of the games and others, with many
calling for the Goodell to step down. Critics cite the NFL's
handling of a domestic violence case involving three-time Pro Bowler
Ray Rice as well as violent episodes involving other players,
including one indicted for hitting his young son.
"We started the week with players beating up women, we ended the
week with players beating up children," retired NFL player Tom
Jackson said on Sunday during ESPNís "Sunday NFL Countdown." "We are
in a very serious state in the National Football League."
"It is time for Roger Goodell to resign, and for the NFL to get
serious about its commitment to ending violence against women within
the league," Nita Chaudhary, co-founder of the women's rights group
UltraViolet, said in a statement.
Goodell, the NFL commissioner since 2006, has admitted he "didn't
get it right" when initially issuing only a two-game suspension and
$500,000 fine to punish Rice, a Baltimore Ravens running back, for
punching and knocking out a girlfriend who is now his wife.
After a video of the punch surfaced the Ravens released Rice and
Goodell issued an indefinite suspension. Rice is expected to appeal
the suspension, ESPN reported on Sunday, citing sources.
Goodell has said the league had not seen the video previously but
questions remain about what the league knew and when.
President Barack Obama was shocked by the video, his chief of staff
Denis McDonough said on Sunday on the NBC program "Meet the Press."
The White House had said in a previous statement that "hitting a
woman is not something a real man does."
Adding to the league's embarrassment, Minnesota Vikings' star
running back Adrian Peterson was arrested on Saturday and charged
with injuring his four-year-old son by whipping him on the legs and
torso with a switch made from a tree branch. The Vikings deactivated
Peterson on Friday immediately after the allegations surfaced.
OWNERS BACK GOODELL
Amid the uproar, the NFL's Carolina Panthers deactivated defensive
end Greg Hardy for Sunday's game against the Detroit Lions, as Hardy
appeals a conviction for assaulting his former girlfriend.
The Panthers listed Hardy as inactive in a notice on the team
website about two hours before the team's home opener against the
Lions, offering no reason for the reversal. Officials could not be
reached immediately for comment.
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Another player, San Francisco 49ers defensive lineman Ray McDonald,
was arrested Aug. 31 on suspicion of hitting his pregnant fiance.
But McDonald, who has maintained his innocence, played Sunday in the
49ers game against the Chicago Bears. Goodell, who serves at the
behest of the NFL team owners, appears to still enjoy their support.
Washington Redskins owner Dan Snyder on Saturday became the latest
owner to back Goodell's handling of the Rice case.
"Roger Goodell has always had the best interests of football at
heart, both on and off the field," Snyder said in the statement on
Saturday. "The entire Washington Redskins organization strongly
endorses his efforts to eradicate domestic abuse and the independent
investigation into the Ray Rice assault."
Goodell has said the league had not seen the tape of Rice punching
his then-girlfriend Janay Palmer until it was released by the
entertainment website TMZ. But the Associated Press reported that a
law enforcement official said the tape was delivered to league
officials in April.
Former FBI director Robert Mueller will lead a probe into how the
NFL dealt with evidence in the case.
Senator Kirsten Gillibrand, a Democrat from New York, said on the
CBS program "Face the Nation" Sunday that if Goodell lied about when
the league saw the second tape "then he has to step down because he
won't have the force of authority to change how they address these
Gillibrand is one of 16 senators calling on Goodell to adopt a
zero-tolerance policy on domestic violence in the league.
(Reporting by Kevin Murphy in Kansas City, Missouri; Writing by
Carey Gillam; Editing by Andrea Ricci and Eric Walsh)
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