Embattled NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell pledged to “get it right and do whatever is necessary to accomplish that” in a New York press conference on Friday afternoon.
“We can use the NFL to help create change,” Goodell announced, “not only in our league, but in society.”
The 45-minute press conference, long on slogans but short on specifics, comes in the wake of the indictment of 2012 NFL MVP Adrian Peterson on a child-abuse charge and video showing three-time Pro Bowler Ray Rice punching the woman he later married.
The commissioner announced new partnerships with groups combating abuse, including the National Domestic Violence Hotline, and a mandatory education program for players, coaches, and other NFL employees. “Everyone will participate in education programs starting in the next month,” Goodell said, “followed by training programs.”
Goodell also revealed the establishment of a “conduct committee” to deal with behavioral issues in the future to avoid the mistakes he made in handling the Ray Rice case. The establishment of the committee signals Goodell giving up power, and responsibility, in the area of discipline that has so vexed him as of late. Goodell said the clear and transparent rules that govern a football game should stand as the model for the conduct committee, tasked by the Super Bowl with coming up with specific standards, in establishing clear and transparent rules for behavior.
Goodell refused to say whether he has been interviewed by former FBI Director Robert Mueller, conducting an internal investigation of the NFL’s handling of the Ray Rice matter, or how, specifically, Ray Rice’s statements to him conflicted with the TMZ video showing him in a casino elevator knocking out the woman he later married–the league’s justification for shifting the running back’s two-game suspension into an indefinite one. “I got it wrong on the handling of the Ray Rice matter,” he conceded, “and I’m sorry for that.”
As the commissioner fielded questions, a man to his left began disrupting the press conference. As security removed the event crasher, he screamed in a high-pitched voice, in reference to the Rice case: “Don’t take me to an elevator, please. Don’t take me to an elevator, please.”
When asked whether he has considered resigning, Goodell declared: “I have not. I’m focused on doing my job.” He insisted he should be allowed to remain as commissioner “because I acknowledged my mistake” and “we’re moving in a very important direction.”
“We’re going to clean up our house,” the commissioner promised. “We’re going to get this right. We’re going to make a difference.”