CANTON, Ohio — NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell defended himself Friday against criticism that he was too lenient in suspending Ray Rice two games for his “horrible mistake.”
“We just can’t make up the discipline,” Goodell said. “It has to be consistent with other cases. And it was in this matter.”
He stressed that the Baltimore running back has assumed responsibility for his conduct, has no history of assault and is following a court order to enter a diversionary program after his domestic violence arrest.
Goodell spoke a day before the Pro Football Hall of Fame induction ceremony. It was his first chance to answer questions regarding Rice since disciplining him July 24. Rice apologized at training camp Thursday.
The six-year veteran will miss the Ravens’ season opener against Cincinnati on Sept. 7 and the Sept. 11 game against Pittsburgh.
Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger was suspended six games (reduced to four) in 2010 after being accused of sexually assaulting a college student, 20.
Goodell said, unlike Roethlisberger, Rice had not had off-field problems before.
“If it’s a first offense, someone who’s had a strong background of being very responsible in the community ... then we would take that into account,” Goodell said.
Meanwhile, Browns receiver Josh Gordon met Friday with NFL officials to appeal a possible indefinite suspension for violating the league’s substance abuse policy. Gordon’s attorney, Maurice Suh, is expected to argue that Gordon tested positive for marijuana because of secondhand smoke, a defense they planned to enhance with witnesses.
Goodell said a decision will be based on the information at the hearing.
GLENDALE — Arizona Cardinals linebacker John Abraham, charged with drunken driving in late June, apologized to his teammates, the organization and fans “for letting them down.”
Abraham, in a statement released by Arizona, says he understands “the significance” of his actions and “is taking the necessary steps” to handle what he calls his “personal business.” He says he hopes to rejoin the team in the near future.
- rizona signed offensive tackle Max Starks, who practiced Friday. The 6-foot-8-inch, 345-pounder is in his 11th NFL season after spending nine with Pittsburgh and last year with San Diego and St. Louis.
Marshawn Lynch, who held out in hopes of getting a new contract to replace or extend the four-year, $31 million deal he signed in 2012, returned after the team agreed to guarantee $1.5 million for this season that was previously slated as roster bonuses, incentives, or money he would get in 2015. He watched practice from the sideline Friday.
- The Green Bay Packers unveiled a “Lambeau Leap” bronze statue outside Lambeau Field that pays tribute to the post-touchdown celebration of a player jumping into the stands behind the end zone. Ex-safety LeRoy Butler is credited with starting the ritual in 1993.
- Steelers punter Shaun Suisham parlayed his consistency into a four-year contract extension that runs through the 2018 season.
- Washington Redskins receiver Jerry Rice Jr. has a torn labrum in his left shoulder and will have surgery and be placed on injured reserve.