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NFL owners consider revising personal conduct policy

NFL commissioner Roger Goodell talks during a press

NFL commissioner Roger Goodell talks during a press conference at the Hilton Hotel on Sept. 19, 2014 in New York City. Goodell spoke about the NFL's failure to address domestic violence, sexual assault and drug abuse in the league. Credit: Getty Images / Elsa

NFL owners met for more than nine hours Wednesday in Manhattan to discuss possible revisions to the league's personal conduct policy in the wake of a series of domestic violence cases resulting in suspensions of several high-profile players.

Although no formal changes were announced, commissioner Roger Goodell said the league continues to consult with experts on domestic violence, former players and NFL Players Association executives. Ray Rice, Adrian Peterson, Greg Hardy and Jonathan Dwyer were suspended as a result of incidents involving domestic violence.

"We had a tremendous focus on our approach to social responsibility,'' Goodell said. "We educated the owners and other executives. That education will continue with all personnel starting this month. We also spent a great deal of time talking about our policies, making them more effective, making decisions on a more timely basis.''

The league came under intense criticism for its handling of cases involving domestic violence, starting with Goodell's initial two-game suspension of Rice, who knocked out his then-fiancee, Janay Palmer, in the elevator of an Atlantic City casino in February.

Goodell suspended Rice indefinitely after a video showing the running back punching Palmer, now Rice's wife, was posted on the TMZ Sports website. He already had apologized for not handing down a more severe penalty than the two-game ban.

Peterson did not enter a plea yesterday in Conroe, Texas, to child-abuse charges in connection with disciplining his 4-year-old son in May. His attorney, Rusty Hardin, said he eventually will plead not guilty to the charge, which carries a penalty of up to 2 years in prison.

The Vikings initially reinstated Peterson after he was charged. They later put him on the commissioner's exempt list, essentially placing him on paid leave. The Panthers did the same with Hardy, whom a judge found guilty of assaulting a former girlfriend in May.

Goodell is exploring his own role in disciplining players who violate the personal conduct policy, saying, "everything is on the table.'' He has the power to suspend and to decide on appeals of his punishment.

NFL senior adviser Lisa Friel, a former federal prosecutor, recently was hired to help the league deal better with domestic violence and sexual abuse cases. She said numerous alternatives are being discussed.

"Who should impose the discipline? As of right now, the commissioner does at all levels,'' Friel said. "He imposes discipline and he's the appellate officer as well. He's put all of that on the table, so we're looking at who should be imposing the discipline. Should it be an individual? A panel of people? If it's not the commissioner, then maybe he can be the appellate officer.''

Giants president John Mara is overseeing an investigation by former FBI director Robert Mueller into the league's handling of evidence in Rice's case. Mara said Mueller's work could "probably take another several months. We're not trying to rush him. We want to be as thorough as possible. He told us it'll probably be another several months.''

Mara said there was good dialogue on domestic violence in the NFL and society in general.

"I think all of us learned a lot and hopefully we'll be able to implement some of these things going forward,'' Mara said. "I want to see happen in the right manner, and I think we're going about it the right way.''

Peterson's trial Dec. 1. Judge Kelly Case set a trial date of Dec. 1 for Peterson's child-abuse case.

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