Roger Goodell finally dropped his stubborn insistence that Ray Rice's measly two-game suspension for beating his fiancee unconscious was strict enough.
Goodell sent a letter to NFL team owners this week both apologizing for the appallingly lenient punishment and enacting a new NFL policy on domestic abuse and sexual assault cases.
Rice was suspended for two games, while other players who used marijuana or had a drinking infraction received far more serious penalties -- anywhere from a four-game to total season suspension.
The NFL starts from a "clear, simple principle: domestic violence and sexual assault are wrong. They are illegal. They have no place in the NFL...," Goodell wrote.
Goodell's letter read in part:
"Although the NFL is celebrated for what happens on the field, we must be equally vigilant in what we do off the field.
At times, however, and despite our best efforts, we fall short of our goals. We clearly did so in response to a recent incident of domestic violence. We allowed our standards to fall below where they should be and lost an important opportunity to emphasize our strong stance on a critical issue and the effective programs we have in place.
My disciplinary decision led the public to question our sincerity, our commitment, and whether we understood the toll that domestic violence inflicts on so many families. I take responsibility both for the decision and for ensuring that our actions in the future properly reflect our values. I didn’t get it right. Simply put, we have to do better. And we will."
A new, stricter NFL policy on domestic and sexual violence covers not just players, but all personnel. The first offense is an automatic minimum six-game suspension. A second offense is banishment from the NFL, with the option to petition for reinstatement after a year.
"There will be no presumption or assurance that the petition will be granted," Goodell writes.
Read Goodell's full letter to NFL owners.