For the first time since the NFL announced a two-game suspension for Baltimore Ravens running back Ray Rice, Commissioner Roger Goodell addressed the ban and said it was "consistent with other cases."
"Our policy is clear on this case," Goodell told reporters Friday in Canton, Ohio, as part of the Pro Football Hall of Fame festivities. "We have a very firm policy on domestic violence and it is not acceptable in the NFL. He obviously went through the process of evaluating the issue. You look at all of that to determine how that individual is reacting to it. I think what's important here is that Ray is being accountable for it. He recognizes he made a horrible mistake and he knows what he did is unacceptable by his standards and by our standards.
"I was also very impressed with Ray in the sense that Ray is not only accepting this issue but he's saying, 'I was wrong.' I want to see people, when they make a mistake, I want to see them take responsibility and be accountable for it."
Rice received the suspension and will lose three game checks for a February incident at an Atlantic City hotel in which he was charged with aggravated assault against his then-fiancée. Security cameras caught Rice pulling an apparently unconscious Janay Rice (nee Palmer) out of an elevator.
The couple has since married. Rice avoided a trial by entering a pre-trial diversion program in May.
Reaction to news of the suspension, announced July 24, has been mostly negative.
Goodell said Rice's previous history was taken into account when determining the length of the discipline.
"Ray Rice did not have another incident," Goodell said. "There were other cases, and we take them into account. We have to remain consistent. We can't just make up the discipline. It has to be consistent with other cases and it was consistent with other cases.
"In this case, there was no discipline by the criminal justice system, he was put into a diversionary program."
Much of the criticism hurled at the NFL has centered on the apparent discrepancy between suspensions that result from violations of the league's drug policy, versus those incurred through the code of personal conduct.
"When we have a drug program that is collectively bargained, it takes four incidents before you actually reach a suspension," Goodell said.
Though he held a press conference in May, Rice faced questions about the incident for the first time Thursday at Ravens training camp and showed contrition, saying he "made the biggest mistake" of his life.
The Ravens coaching staff and front office has expressed support for Rice throughout the process. Rice is allowed to practice with the team during training and play in the preseason.
"We're very confident that this young man understands what he did and will move forward," Goodell said.