Roger Goodell has no plans to heed the calls for him to resign as NFL commissioner over his handling of the Ray Rice case, several people familiar with the inner workings of the league said Wednesday.
“That’s not a consideration,” one of those people said, speaking on the condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak on Goodell’s behalf.
Another person familiar with the league’s intentions said there was “no chance” of a Goodell resignation, and two others echoed that sentiment.
Criticism of Goodell and the league has intensified since TMZ released a video Monday showing Rice striking his then-fiancée, Janay Palmer, in a hotel elevator in Atlantic City in February. The two have since married.
The National Organization for Women called for Goodell’s resignation Wednesday.
“The NFL has lost its way,” the organization’s president, Terry O’Neill, said in a written statement. “It doesn’t have a Ray Rice problem; it has a violence against women problem…. The only workable solution is for Roger Goodell to resign, and for his successor to appoint an independent investigator with full authority to gather factual data about domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault and stalking within the NFL community, and to recommend real and lasting reforms.”
In response, the NFL issued a written statement that said: “We appreciate the concern on this issue and under Commissioner Goodell’s leadership have already initiated steps with the help of outside experts to strengthen our policies and programs on domestic violence and sexual assault. These steps are based on a clear principle: domestic violence and sexual assault are wrong. They are illegal. They have no place in the NFL and are unacceptable in any way, under any circumstances. That has been and remains our policy.”
Some media members also have said that Goodell should resign.
Goodell told “CBS This Morning” that he does not believe his job is on the line.
“No, I’m used to criticism,” Goodell said during the televised interview. “I’m used to that. Every day I have to earn my stripes. Every day I have to, to do a better job. And that’s my responsibility to the game, to the NFL and to what I see as society.
“People expect a lot from the NFL. We accept that. We embrace that. That’s our opportunity to make a difference not just in the NFL, but in society in general. We have that ability. We have that influence. And we have to do that. And every day, that’s what we’re going to strive to do.”
Goodell appears to have the support of the owners of the 32 NFL franchises, who elected him to succeed Paul Tagliabue as commissioner in 2006.
An executive with one NFL team said Tuesday that “if you’re asking me if people are ready to throw [Goodell] overboard because of this, the answer is no. I don’t think that would be a correct interpretation.”
New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft expressed support for Goodell during an appearance Tuesday on CBS.
The Baltimore Ravens released Rice on Monday after the new video became public and the NFL suspended Rice indefinitely. In July, the league had suspended Rice for two games. That punishment was widely criticized as being insufficient. Goodell, after initially defending the penalty, later admitted he’d made a mistake. He also toughened the sport’s penalties for future domestic violence cases.
The NFL and the Ravens have said they did not view the new video before Monday. A previously released video had shown Rice pulling Palmer, who was apparently unconscious, from the elevator. That video was taken from outside the elevator. There previously had not been publicly released images depicting what happened inside the elevator.
UPDATE (4:05 p.m. ET)
New York Giants co-owner John Mara also backed Goodell, saying in a written statement Wednesday it is “misguided” to believe that Goodell could lose his job.
“My understanding is that the League and the Ravens made repeated requests to obtain the video of the Ray Rice incident and were denied each time,” Mara said. “The notion that the League should have gone around law enforcement to obtain the video is, in my opinion, misguided, as is the notion that the Commissioner‘s job is now in jeopardy. The video is appalling, and I believe that the team and the League took appropriate action after they finally had the opportunity to view it.”
But Mara also expressed his displeasure with the original penalty given to Rice.
“Many of us were dissatisfied with the original two-game suspension of Ray Rice,” Mara said in his statement. “The Commissioner took responsibility for that in his August 28th memo to the owners when he stated, ‘I didn’t get it right. Simply put, we have to do better. And we will.’ He then took appropriate steps to address this matter. Our policy now on domestic violence has been strengthened. We have all learned a valuable lesson from this episode. We now have a strong partnership with anti-domestic violence groups, and we will be a better League for it going forward.”
Goodell wrote a memo to NFL teams Wednesday in which he said: “As always, we will continuously examine our procedures. I believe that we took a significant step forward with the enhanced policies on domestic violence and sexual assault that were announced last month. I also know that we will be judged on our actions going forward. I am confident that those actions will demonstrate our commitment to address this issue seriously and effectively, and will reflect well on the NFL, all member clubs, and everyone who is a part of our league.”
In the memo, Goodell reiterated his stance that the NFL did not see the video of what happened inside the elevator until Monday. He also reiterated that the league was rebuffed in its attempts to obtain the video from law enforcement.
“None of the law enforcement entities we approached was permitted to provide any video or other investigatory material to us,” Goodell wrote. “As is customary in disciplinary cases, the suspension imposed on Mr. Rice in July was based on the information available to us at that time.”
Goodell wrote that the league “did not ask the Atlantic City casino directly for the video.” The casino would have been prohibited by law from giving the video to the NFL, wrote Goodell, who added that “our longstanding policy in matters like this … is to cooperate with law enforcement and take no action to interfere with the criminal justice system.”