For now, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell is content to watch how the legal case of San Francisco 49ers defensive lineman Ray McDonald plays out before he decides how or whether to apply his new policy on domestic violence.
Goodell, who is in Seattle for the NFL opener Thursday night between the Seahawks and Green Bay Packers, told reporters that he’ll wait until the legal issues stemming from McDonald’s arrest on felony domestic violence charges over the weekend are resolved.
“I think the first thing you have to do is let the process play out and get the facts and make sure you understand all the circumstances,” Goodell said (via the Associated Press). “We don’t right now. We obviously are following it very closely, but the policy we applied uniformly, players, coaches, executives, commissioners, I think we made that very clear in the policy.”
McDonald was arrested early Sunday morning after police were called to his 30th birthday party and discovered what they said where “visible injuries” on his pregnant fiancee. Although 49ers Coach Jim Harbaugh said he has a zero tolerance policy on players involved in domestic violence, he also intends to let the legal process evolve before determining his own actions regarding McDonald. For now, he is expected to start in the 49ers’ opener Sunday against the Dallas Cowboys. The defensive lineman is the first to test the tough new policy Goodell last week in the wake of a torrent of criticism he receiver for the two-game suspension of Baltimore Ravens running back Ray Rice.
“It was important for the ownership to understand that and how serious we are taking this issue. The importance of the work that needs to be done,” he said. “It’s not just about discipline. We’re going to step up every aspect of our program, our education, training.”