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Roger Goodell: NFL has problem with domestic violence

NFL commissioner Roger Goodell on the field on

NFL commissioner Roger Goodell on the field on Jan. 19, 2014, two weeks before the Seattle Seahawks took on the San Francisco 49ers in the 2014 NFC Championship Game at CenturyLink Field. Credit: Getty Images

Despite withering criticism over his handling of the Ray Rice situation, NFL commissioner Roger Goodell said he does not believe his job is in jeopardy. But Goodell did admit the league has a problem with domestic violence and that he is redoubling his efforts toward addressing it.

"I'm used to criticism,'' Goodell said in a CBS News interview that aired Wednesday morning. "Every day, I have to earn my stripes. Every day, I have to do a better job. And that's my responsibility to the game, to the NFL and to what I see as society.''

The National Organization for Women on Wednesday called for Goodell's resignation. "The NFL has lost its way,'' NOW president Terry O'Neill said in a statement. "It doesn't have a Ray Rice problem; it has a violence against women problem.''

Twelve House of Representatives Judiciary Committee Democrats sent a letter to Goodell on Wednesday demanding "the highest level of transparency'' over how the league investigated the Rice incident.

According to USA Today, the letter said domestic violence "unfortunately impacts every level of our society . . . and our professional sports leagues are important economic and cultural institutions in the United States and we are interested in the manner in which these leagues handle incidence of domestic violence by their players, owners and other employees.''

To leave office, Goodell would have to resign -- which he has indicated he won't do -- or be voted out by a three-quarters majority of the 32 owners. He appears to have support among ownership, however.

The Giants' John Mara released a statement supporting Goodell but also acknowledged the owners were "dissatisfied'' with the original two-game suspension for Rice.

"Our policy now on domestic violence has been strengthened,'' said Mara, who added that the NFL had no right to go around law enforcement to obtain the video.

The Associated Press reported yesterday that a law enforcement official said he sent a video of Rice striking his then-fiancée to an NFL official five months ago.

Spokesman Brian McCarthy said the NFL had "no knowledge of this. We are not aware of anyone in our office who possessed or saw the video before it was made public Monday. We will look into it.''

Asked if he still stood by his statement after the AP story was published, Mara said last night, "I have nothing more to say.''

Patriots owner Robert Kraft also backed Goodell.

Rice was suspended indefinitely Monday, hours after a video released by TMZ showed him striking Palmer in the face and knocking her out Feb. 15.

Goodell is expected to rule on two other cases involving domestic violence. In July, the Panthers' Greg Hardy was found guilty of assaulting his girlfriend and threatening to kill her. Hardy has appealed the decision. On Aug. 31, the 49ers' Ray McDonald was charged with domestic violence against his pregnant fiancee. Hardy and McDonald are playing while their legal cases remain unresolved.

"Absolutely, we're saying we have a problem . . . We haven't done this right,'' Goodell told CBS.

"We've had lots of conversations . . . with experts, not just in the last two weeks or three weeks, or months, but over the last couple of years, saying, 'How could we prevent the cases from happening and when they do happen, how can we send the right message to say this is unacceptable?' ''

Giants coach Tom Coughlin called the Rice situation "very troubling, very tragic. There's no place for it in society and no place for it in the NFL.''

But that's not an absolute. In 2009, the Giants signed two free agents, Rocky Bernard and Michael Boley, who had domestic violence transgressions.

So if there is "no place'' for domestic violence in the NFL, why did the Giants add two players with a history of it?

Coughlin said it is assessed on a case-by-case basis.

Ravens president Dick Cass said the organization tried to obtain a copy of the video, contacting the casino, Atlantic City prosecutor's office and New Jersey State Police. Cass said they also enlisted the help of the Jets' and Giants' security staffs.

Ravens general manager Ozzie Newsome said while Rice was still with the team, he did not deny what had happened in the elevator.

"Ray had given a story to [coach] John [Harbaugh] and I,'' Newsome said. "And what we saw on the video was what Ray said. Ray didn't lie to me.''

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