SBD/August 29, 2014/Leagues and Governing Bodies

Goodell, NFL Receive Resounding Praise For Harsher Domestic Violence Policy

The NFL revealed a new domestic violence policy Thursday, and observers of the league have "never before seen the leader of a major professional sport admit a mistake as unequivocally or atone for it as immediately -- and forcefully -- as NFL commissioner Roger Goodell did," according to a front-page piece by Greg Cote of the MIAMI HERALD. The NFL has gone from "being seen as soft on domestic violence to drawing a hard line against it." Cynics "might call it a public relations maneuver, but the more hopeful among us see it instead as a positive and unmistakable message" (MIAMI HERALD, 8/29). ESPNW's Jane McManus wrote under the header, "Time To Give Roger Goodell Some Credit On Domestic Violence." A league that "never admits a mistake changed course ... and announced a raft of new additions to a practically nonexistent domestic violence policy." It is a "turnaround that could give you whiplash" (ESPNW.com, 8/28). McManus added, "When does the NFL do that? It's not a league that backs down from a lot of its decisions. So I think in order for Roger Goodell to do that in this case, it does say quite a bit" ("SportsCenter," ESPN, 8/28). In Hartford, Jeff Jacobs writes Goodell "manned up." Although some will "continue to focus on Goodell's initial blunder or on the fine print of his new program, at some point we must recognize that this domestic violence initiative is a beacon of hope for the abused and potentially a harder hammer of justice against the abuser" (HARTFORD COURANT, 8/29). USA Today's Christine Brennan said, "For the league to announce this so quickly shows how much they care about this topic, how aware they are that they are leaders, that the NFL is expected to uphold these high standards" ("GMA," ABC, 8/29). CSNBAYAREA.com's Ray Ratto wrote the NFL "just got religion on domestic violence" (CSNBAYAREA.com, 8/28). USA TODAY's Nancy Armour writes under the header, "NFL Gets It Right At Last." Armour: "Bravo, NFL. It's about time" (USA TODAY, 8/29). 

OWNING UP TO BEING WRONG: In N.Y., William Rhoden writes the "most stunning aspect" of Thursday's announcement is that the NFL "admitted that it had made a mistake." The NFL "never admits it makes a mistake." Rhoden: "Better late than never, I suppose. But why so late? Perhaps because the NFL's moral high ground is so low" (N.Y. TIMES, 8/29). In Toronto, Bill Lankhof writes it "isn’t often that the NFL admits it is wrong so it is to Goodell’s credit that he is doing so in this case -- even if it did take a lot of cajoling, threats and ridicule to make him see the light" (TORONTO SUN, 8/29). In Phoenix, Andrew Joseph writes it "took longer than most would have liked, but this policy sends the right message" (ARIZONA REPUBLIC, 8/29). Pro Football Talk's Mike Florio said, "It's rare that the NFL will ever change its behavior, react to the criticism. But in this case, the criticism was so universal in hindsight [that] it's not surprising" ("PFT," NBCSN, 8/28). SI.com's Chris Burke wrote Goodell "worked quickly to rectify a mistake made." Rather than "simply move on, ... Goodell actually paid attention to the feedback thrown at him and made a conscious effort to improve the league's stance in the future" (SI.com, 8/28).

UNDER PRESSURE: NFL.com's Judy Battista wrote there is "little question that the loud response" to Ravens RB Ray Rice's punishment "contributed significantly to this change." Goodell "surely heard from team owners, too." One owner after the Rice suspension was announced said that he "thought it was too light" (NFL.com, 8/28). Battista added, "They were taken aback for sure by the ferocity of the criticism from fans and media. That really placed them on a path that they realized very quickly they had made a big mistake" ("NFL AM," NFL Network, 8/29). In New Jersey, Tara Sullivan writes, "Before we crown this as Goodell’s Adam Silver moment, let’s not rejoice in an awakening that never should have been necessary." Goodell can "cite personal moral outrage as much as he likes, but truth is, public pressure was surely the more powerful force in moving this conversation toward a better, more responsible future" (Bergen RECORD, 8/29). YAHOO SPORTS' Eric Adelson wrote this was "truly a public shaming, delivered 140 characters at a time." Social media "made Goodell into a monster, and he clearly felt a need to combat the tide that had started to drown him." He "went a long way toward accomplishing that with his letter" (SPORTS.YAHOO.com, 8/28).
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