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NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell: 'I Got It Wrong'


NFL Commissioner, Roger Goodell, broke his silence today over the way the league has handled a series of abuse accusations surrounding key players. Goodell held a news conference in New York and took responsibility for the ongoing crisis that has engulfed the league.


ROGER GOODELL: I got it wrong on number of levels, from the process that I led to the decision that I reached. But now I will get it right and do whatever is necessary to accomplish that.

BLOCK: NPR's sports correspondent, Tom Goldman, joins us now. And, Tom, whatever is necessary apparently does not include Roger Goodell stepping down. Roger Goodell is not going to resign.

TOM GOLDMAN, BYLINE: Right, Melissa. And he said never considered resigning during this whole ordeal, you know, which will disappoint some, including 20,000 people who've signed an online petition by the national womens advocacy organization UltraViolet, calling for his resignation. It was a big moment for him today - the biggest of his tenure, in fact. And you know, he seemed to do pretty well. He appeared to relax as the question and answer portion of the press conference went on. He answered most everything directly. Some issues, like the details of the Ray Rice case, for instance, he couldn't answer because that case is being appealed. But I think the owners, who were already supportive, will point to his performance as proof that their support is the right stance.

BLOCK: Well, we heard Roger Goodell say he got it wrong. How is he now proposing getting it right??

GOLDMAN: A number of ways - he laid out more of the reforms that he's been talking about since late August. Some of his new plan includes a requirement that all NFL team personnel and staff undergo training on the prevention of domestic violence and sexual assault, starting within 30 days. Also, he said the league will provide money and other support to the National Sexual Violence Resource Center and the National Domestic Violence Hotline.

BLOCK: Tom, Roger Goodell has acknowledged that he's handled these cases badly. It's lead to a really chaotic situation over the last couple of weeks and it's raised a lot of questions about how involved the commissioner should be in off-the-field legal cases like these. What did he have to say about that?

GOLDMAN: Oh, yeah. Absolutely that's a big issue. He's been described as prosecutor, judge and appellate court all in one on these off-the-field personal conduct issues. Another desccription I got was that Roger Goodell is both President of the United States and Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, which is very difficult. Because sometimes you have to fight against yourself. Critics, including many players, have said he has too much power. And he was asked whether he'd be willing to relinquish some of that power. His answer - an answer he repeated several times during the press conference - everything is on the table. So we'll see if that means he relinquishes or simply scales back. You know, Melissa, like most sports league commissioners, he likes his power.

BLOCK: Tom, we've seen a whole series of players now who have been arrested, indicted and teams responding in very different ways - an inconsistency that's really caused a lot of public outrage over just what the NFL is doing. How will Goodell address that going forward?

GOLDMAN: You know, it's very important to get uniformity to avoid the chaos you're talking about, Melissa. And toward that end, Goodell talked repeatedly about reforming the peronal conduct policy. Here's what he said.


GOODELL: We need to change our policies and our procedures. And we need to get some help in trying to identify how to do that. We have state laws that are different from state to state and even locally. We need to make sure that we have looked at when the NFL should be involved in the investigative process. We need to know how much reliance we should have on the law enforcement information.

GOLDMAN: And, Melissa, he added that there will be a personal conduct committee, which will explore these issues. And that will be in place by the Super Bowl in February.

BLOCK: OK. NPR sports correspondent Tom Goldman. Tom, thanks very much.

GOLDMAN: You're welcome. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

Tom Goldman is NPR's sports correspondent. His reports can be heard throughout NPR's news programming, including Morning Edition and All Things Considered, and on NPR.org.
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