Terry O'Neill, the president of the National Organization for Women, has called for NFL commissioner Roger Goodell to resign, citing Ray Rice's assault on his now-wife as just one of many examples of the league's failure to act against domestic violence.
"The only workable solution is for Roger Goodell to resign and for his successor to appoint an independent investigator with full authority to gather factual data about domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault and stalking within the NFL community and to recommend real and lasting reforms." Terry O'Neill, president of NOW
"The NFL has lost its way. It doesn't have a Ray Rice problem; it has a violence against women problem," O'Neill said in a statement. "... The only workable solution is for Roger Goodell to resign and for his successor to appoint an independent investigator with full authority to gather factual data about domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault and stalking within the NFL community and to recommend real and lasting reforms."
In the release, NOW listed Rice, San Francisco 49ers defensive lineman Ray McDonald, Carolina Panthers defensive lineman Greg Hardy and Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones as examples of cases the league has failed to act on.
"The NFL sets the example for college, high school, middle school and even elementary school football programs," O'Neill said. "And the example it is setting right now is simply unacceptable. New leadership must come in with a specific charge to transform the culture of violence against women that pervades the NFL. That's the only way to restore honor and integrity to the country's most lucrative and popular pastime."
Goodell told CBS News that he doesn't believe his job is in jeopardy as a result of his handling of the Rice situation but admitted the league has a domestic violence problem. The interview with Goodell, and the NOW release, both came several hours before The Associated Press reported that a videotape of Rice striking his then-fiancee Janay Palmer in a hotel elevator was sent to an NFL executive in April.
Asked if he felt his job was on the line, Goodell answered: "No."
"I'm used to criticism. I'm used to that. Every day, I have to earn my stripes," he said in a portion of Tuesday's interview that aired on "CBS This Morning" on Wednesday. "Every day, I have to, to do a better job. And that's my responsibility to the game, to the NFL and to what I see as society.
"People expect a lot from the NFL. We accept that. We embrace that. That's our opportunity to make a difference, not just in the NFL but in society in general. We have that ability. We have that influence. And we have to do that. And every day, that's what we're going to strive to do."
In the interview with CBS News, Goodell acknowledged that the NFL has a domestic violence problem because "one case is too many."
New York Giants president and CEO John Mara issued a statement Wednesday in support of the league.
"Many of us were dissatisfied with the original two-game suspension of Ray Rice. The commissioner took responsibility for that in his August 28th memo to the owners when he stated, 'I didn't get it right. Simply put, we have to do better. And we will.' He then took appropriate steps to address this matter," Mara said. "Our policy now on domestic violence has been strengthened. We have all learned a valuable lesson from this episode. We now have a strong partnership with anti-domestic violence groups, and we will be a better league for it going forward.
"My understanding is that the league and the Ravens made repeated requests to obtain the video of the Ray Rice incident and were denied each time. The notion that the league should have gone around law enforcement to obtain the video is, in my opinion, misguided, as is the notion that the commissioner's job is now in jeopardy. The video is appalling, and I believe that the team and the league took appropriate action after they finally had the opportunity to view it.
"There is no place for domestic violence in our sport or in our society, and we are committed to doing our part to prevent such heinous acts going forward."