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."