Roger Goodell is to be complimented for admitting that he made a mistake in meting out only a two-game suspension to Raven’s running back Ray Rice for Rice’s role in apparently knocking his wife out cold in a casino.
But Goodell’s new Domestic Violence Policy is so full of holes that, if it were applied to the very same Rice wife-beating event (which it won’t be), the new policy would allow to impose no suspension at all. This is because the policy does not define whether penalties kick in only after a criminal conviction is entered establishing that an assault or other crime occurred. Ray Rice was not convicted of any crime associated with the domestic violence in question.
Goodell and other commissioners have many reasons for wanting to let the criminal justice system play out to conviction or acquittal, before imposing any league-related penalties. After all, in many cases (particularly where there exists no shocking video like the one we saw of Rice dragging his wife out of the elevator) the evidence is hard to get at, and conflicting. So Goodell clearly crafted this new policy to allow him to wait until after the criminal justice system has finally acted, before imposing any league penalty on the player. So we have to wait and see how Goodell uses this new policy to know whether it will make a significant difference.