“I’m sorry.” Those seem to be the words uttered one too many times this week in the NFL. The league and Commissioner Roger Goodell had one of the worst weeks in recent memory. A couple of the NFL’s most talented running backs, Ray Rice and Adrian Peterson, highlighted the headlines negatively. The Commissioner is taking criticism for the way he handled the situations, mostly on the Rice issue.
Rice was ready to enter his eighth season with the Baltimore Ravens before he was released by the team and suspended indefinitely by the NFL for a video that was leaked by TMZ. The footage showed Rice, and his then fiancé Janay Palmer fighting verbally before both entering an elevator, which led to Palmer taking a step towards Rice—who quickly retaliated by punching Palmer, knocking her out.
Earlier this year, the NFL suspended Rice for the first two games of the season for domestic violence. Goodell said in a statement that the NFL had not seen the video of Rice punching his fiancée until TMZ released the video on September 8. According to TMZ they received the video with one phone call, making it difficult to understand how the NFL was not able to retrieve that same video.
“I got it wrong in the handling of the (Rice) matter. I am sorry for that,” Goodell said in his first press conference since the incident surfaced. “I got it wrong on a number of levels – from the process that I led to the decision I reached. But now I will get it right.”
Goodell is trying to better the situation with former FBI Director Robert Mueller, who will conduct an independent investigation to answer questions raised about the NFL’s process in reviewing Rice’s conduct. Goodell also plans to create programs to help educate players and everyone involved in the NFL with domestic violence and sexual assault.
Rice and the NFL Players Association plan to appeal Rice’s indefinite suspension, while Goodell tries to reshape his image in front of the media, fans and his own league. Goodell and the league hired four women this past week to address domestic violence for the NFL.
Adrian Peterson’s situation is a little less dramatic for the league, and more on Peterson and the Minnesota Vikings. Peterson was charged for one count of reckless or negligent injury to a child. He reportedly disciplined his son earlier this year with the use of a switch, leading to bloody injuries.
The Vikings did suspend Peterson, but later reinstated their star running back. That led to an uproar among media, fans and even politicians. Two days later Peterson was placed on the exempt list – meaning he is not allowed to participate in any team activates, but will still be paid. Therefore, a paid vacation for Peterson until his off-field issues are resolved in court.
Neither of these two stories, Rice and Peterson, have a conclusion coming anytime soon. The decision on Rice’s appeal will come in the next couple weeks. Peterson could be spending close to two years in court, while Goodell focuses in on recreating his and the NFL’s image without losing sponsors. Goodell elects to tip-toe around this mess, and the NFL season continues to not miss a step.