RENTON, Wash. — Commissioner Roger Goodell said the NFL is closely watching San Francisco defensive lineman Ray McDonald's case after the institution of a new policy on domestic violence.
Goodell spoke Wednesday night after attending a youth event the night before Seattle and Green Bay open the season. Goodell said the league is still waiting to get all the facts in McDonald's case and that any discipline under the new policy would not be applied until the legal system had run its course.
McDonald faces felony domestic violence charges for an incident during his 30th birthday party with teammates and friends Sunday, when police say his alleged victim suffered "visible injuries."
"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. "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."
Goodell apologized in his announcement of the new policy last week saying he "didn't get it right" with a two-game suspension of Baltimore running back Ray Rice. Goodell said Wednesday the policy wasn't where It needed to be and took responsibility for its shortcomings.
"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."
Goodell also touched on the suspensions of Indianapolis Colts owner Jim Irsay and former Dallas defensive lineman Josh Brent.
Irsay was suspended for the first six games of the season and fined $500,000 for violating its personal conduct policy after he pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor stemming from an embarrassing March traffic stop.
Irsay is barred from team facilities, practices and games and cannot represent the Colts at NFL meetings or events. The fine is the maximum allowed under league rules.
"Whether you're a commissioner or an owner, in the management level, we hold you to a higher standard than the players. This penalty is 10 times financially more than a player would get and there is no discipline from a suspension standpoint for a first-time offended in DUI in the players," Goodell said. "Now we would like to change that, but this is obviously six games and he'll be subject to the same issues of testing and program-related that we would expect others to do."
Brandt retired last year and was sentenced to 180 days in jail after a trial in January in the intoxication manslaughter death of teammate Jerry Brown, a practice squad linebacker for the Cowboys. A 10-year prison sentence was suspended.
The league said Brent will be suspended for the first 10 games of the season and can't participate in team activities for the first six weeks. He won't be allowed to visit the team's practice facility for the first six weeks except to meet with people associated with his rehab.
The 26-year-old Brent must have "no further adverse involvement with law enforcement" and faces potential banishment for what the league called "prohibited alcohol-related conduct."
"I met with Josh. We obviously had to go through a great deal of discussions with outside experts also, including representatives of MADD and felt that where he was this was an appropriate way to bring him back into the league," Goodell said. "But he still has to meet a very high standard and he understands that. He can't afford to have any mistakes from here."