Goodell defends Ray Rice sanction

AFP
Ray Rice at a news conference on a February domestic violence episode in an Atlantic City casino elevator, at the Baltimore Ravens training center on May 23, 2014
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Ray Rice at a news conference on a February domestic violence episode in an Atlantic City casino elevator, at the Baltimore Ravens training center on May 23, 2014 (AFP Photo/Rob Carr)

Canton (United States) (AFP) - NFL commissioner Roger Goodell insisted Friday that his two-game suspension of Ravens running back Ray Rice for domestic abuse was an appropriate penalty.

The suspension was widely criticized as too lenient, but Goodell, speaking on the eve of Football Hall of Fame induction ceremonies, said he had taken Rice's prior sterling reputation into consideration, along with the Baltimore player's comprehensive apology for his behavior.

"Domestic violence is not acceptable," Goodell said. "We went through the process of evaluating whether there would be discipline.

"What's important here is that Ray has taken responsibility for this and has been accountable for his actions."

Rice and Janay Palmer, who is now his wife, had an altercation in an Atlantic City casino elevator in February and security video posted online by TMZ.com showed Rice afterwards lifting a motionless Palmer, then his fiancee, out of the elevator and onto the floor.

Rice was arrested and charged with domestic violence assault. In May, he began a one-year intervention program that allowed him to avert prosecution and avoid serving jail time.

Charges against him will be expunged from his record upon successful completion of the program.

"My actions that night were totally inexcusable," Rice said at Ravens training camp on Thursday. "I made the biggest mistake of my life.

"Violence of any kind, especially man on woman, is just not right," Rice said. "It shouldn't be tolerated. It's not right for society no matter what. That's something I'll stand by and I have to pay for that."

Goodell said the two-game ban was consistent with other punishments handed down by the league.

"It's important to understand this is a young man who made a terrible mistake," Goodell said.

"We're very confident that this young man understands what he needs to do to move forward.

"Ray Rice did not have another incident. We take that into account.

"When someone has a first offense, and has a strong background... we take that into account and when there's a pattern we take that into account."

Goodell said he had talked with both Rice and his wife before deciding on the penalty.

"I had the opportunity to hear from Ray, to hear from his wife and other people and I took all that into account," he said.

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