LAS VEGAS -- National Football League Commissioner Roger Goodell says the league got it wrong when it handed down punishment in a domestic violence case involving a player. Baltimore Ravens running back Ray Rice was suspended two games for allegedly beating his wife.
The NFL announced Thursday it is stiffening penalties, including the possibility of a lifetime ban, for players involved in domestic violence cases.
The domestic violence advocacy organization Safe Nest says this is a huge step by the NFL. Football has become a cultural movement, and many players are viewed as role models. Safe Nest says it hopes the new focus on domestic violence goes beyond the grid iron.
The changes come after Rice allegedly beat his wife Janay Palmer in an elevator in an Atlantic City hotel. She was his fiance at the time of the incident. Rice pleaded not guilty and was admitted into an intervention program that enabled him to avoid trial. The two later married.
"I made the biggest mistake of my life," Rice said. "She can do no wrong. She's an angel."
Commissioner Goodell announced the league will suspend players or staff for six weeks for the first offense of domestic violence. The second offense will result in a lifetime ban.
Lisa Lynn Chapman with Safe Nest says players who earn multi-million dollar contracts and appear on TV in front of millions of people should be held to a tough standard.
"Domestic violence is something that is very serious. People die everyday because of domestic violence. This is a very serious crime. It is a very serious issue," Chapman said. "Like it or not, these individuals are role models. They say, 'Well, I never meant to be.' But, that doesn't matter. They are just by what they do."
Chapman says domestic violence has taken a back seat to more serious crimes. She applauds the NFL for taking such a tough stance. She hopes all professional sports take a cue from the league to not tolerate domestic violence and to protect those who are vulnerable.
"This is the first major societal shift that we've had in a long time - telling people who batter that this is serious, and there are serious consequences," Chapman added.
Players and staff who are banned for life after a second offense are eligible for reinstatement after one year.
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