NEW YORK (WFAN) — NFL commissioner Roger Goodell insisted Wednesday night that the league has made “tremendous progress” on the issue of domestic violence, but added there are complex issues at play.
Goodell’s comments during WFAN’s “Chalk Talk” show came as the NFL is facing a firestorm of controversy over the one-game suspension it handed Giants kicker Josh Brown earlier this season in connection with a May 2015 arrest.
Brown’s wife, Molly, told police the kicker had become physically violent with her on at least 20 occassions. In journals, letters and other documents written by the Pro Bowler and released by the King County Sheriff’s Office, Brown admitted that he had “physically, emotionally and verbally” abused his wife.
The NFL has said police denied its requests for information related to Brown’s arrest, in which he allegedly grabbed his wife’s wrist while she was picking up a phone, causing “redness” and a small cut. Prosecutors did not proceed with the case, citing insufficient evidence.
“Law enforcement will have its own objectives, and it will have its own timetable,” Goodell told the New York Daily News’ Gary Myers, who hosted Wednesday’s event. “They will share what they want to share. And we didn’t get a lot of information.
“And on the other side, we will obviously try to speak to all the individuals involved. In this case, Mrs. Brown didn’t want to speak to us. She was speaking to the police. So we got the information last Wednesday, as you did.”
The commissioner defended the one-game suspension, saying it seemed appropriate based on the information the league’s investigators had at the time. He said the NFL must make a strong case to support its discipline because it knows it will be challenged the players’ union.
The NFL has reopened its investigation into Brown, 37, who could face further discipline in the event that another team signs him.
“If additional information becomes available, then we deal with it,” Goodell said. “And that’s what we will do now that we have additional information. We’ll obviously aggressively pursue that and apply our personal conduct policy.”
Goodell said he “couldn’t disagree more” with criticism that the NFL has not made any progress toward rooting out domestic violence since the Ray Rice scandal rocked the sport in 2014.
“What you see here is a policy that’s evolved,” he said. “We’ve learned a lot, but these are complex matters. And when you talk to the domestic violence experts … these are difficult matters to deal with. You have rights. You have families that you have to be concerned with here. You have privacy issues. And yes, you want to make sure that you’re doing everything possible to address these when they happen, but you also want to deal with them to prevent them from happening.
“I think we’ve made tremendous progress. Can we make more, and will we make more? Of course.”
He added that NFL has also stepped up education efforts aimed at preventing domestic abuse. When there are incidents, the league’s primary objective is for its players and spouses to “get back to a healthy relationship and not to make it even more complicated,” Goodell said.
To watch the full hourlong “Chalk Talk,” click on the video player above.