Roger Goodell defends NFL policies amid Josh Brown fiasco

Giants president and chief executive officer John Mara admitted this week to his and the team’s “misguided decisions” with regard to ex-kicker Josh Brown’s domestic violence case.

But NFL commissioner Roger Goodell offered up no such contrition Wednesday night when he made his first public remarks in the U.S. about Brown following a trip to London for the Giants-Rams game. Goodell defended Brown’s one-game suspension to start this season, and the commissioner crowed about how the league has “made tremendous progress” on the thorny issue in the two years since Goodell badly bungled several high-profile domestic abuse cases.

“What you see here is a policy that’s evolved,” Goodell, speaking with the Daily News’ Gary Myers during WFAN Radio’s “Chalk Talk” show, said of the NFL’s Personal Conduct Policy. “We’ve learned a lot, but these are complex matters. When you talk to the domestic violence experts, these are difficult matters to deal with. You have rights, you have families that you have to be concerned with, privacy issues. Yes, you want to make sure you’re doing everything possible to address these (alleged incidents) when they happen, but you also want to deal with them to prevent them from happening.

“I think we’ve made tremendous progress. Can we make more and will we make more? Of course.”

The remarks might not sit well with domestic violence victim advocacy groups nor the public at large, since Brown only received a paltry one-game ban from Goodell, the league’s judge, jury and executioner on discipline matters.

Josh Brown was arrested, but never charged, in King County (Wash.) in May, 2015, and public documents show Molly Brown, Josh’s ex-wife, told authorities after the arrest that he had been physically violent with her on 20 occasions. Prosecutors never ended up filing criminal charges and the King County Sheriff’s Office closed the investigation of Brown Sept. 14, 2016. In a statement Tuesday, Brown said that he never “struck” Molly.

The Giants didn’t cut Josh Brown despite the release of documents from a journal, allegedly kept by Brown, that included admissions of spousal abuse.

The Giants didn’t cut Josh Brown despite the release of documents from a journal, allegedly kept by Brown, that included admissions of spousal abuse.

(New York Daily News)

The NFL conducted its own investigation into the allegations against Brown, but Goodell only gave the kicker the one-game ban — not the six-game baseline suspension for players accused of violence against women, which was a measure implemented in the revamped NFL Personal Conduct Policy in December, 2014.

Mara admitted that the team knew about Brown’s domestic violence allegations before they signed him to a two-year, $4 million contract in April. Still, when it came time for Goodell to make a decision on punishment, Brown was out for only one game.

“Here’s the issue, the discipline that occurred on the one game was for the event on May of 2015,” Goodell said Wednesday night, alluding to Brown’s 2015 arrest in Washington. “That was the only one that we were able to get of all the different things that we’ve heard. The decision was made by our team after we had the evidence to be able to support the one game. We knew we would get challenged (by the NFL Players Association) and we were able to uphold it.”

Goodell reiterated Wednesday that the NFL “didn’t get a lot of information” from law enforcement when the league was investigating Brown. Police and authorities may not give documents or information to separate entities like a sports league if an investigation is ongoing; certain documents in cases can also be sealed and unavailable to the public.

After new documents were released last week by the King County Sheriff’s Office, files that show Brown admitted abusing Molly Brown in the past, the NFL reopened its investigation of the kicker. Brown was cut by the Giants this week.

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Molly Brown claims that Josh Brown was physically violent with her on 20 occasions.

(Scott Roth/AP)

“That’s what we’ll do now that we have additional information. We’ll aggressively pursue that and apply our personal conduct policy,” said Goodell.

Molly Brown did not to talk to the NFL during its probe of Josh, according to a league statement released in August, and her refusal to cooperate underscores a challenge facing the NFL in these types of cases — women in abusive relationships might be reluctant to cooperate with league investigators. Women might be financially dependent upon their male partner and concerned about the income being terminated; they may fear retribution if the abuser is not arrested; they may fear their partner’s career could get jeopardized or that families will be ripped apart.

Goodell said society as a whole should try to meet the challenge of making it easier for alleged abuse victims to come forward so they can “get help.”

“This is a challenge that we all have as a society — to try to make it so that women who are living in this fear and (these) terrible circumstances can come out and get help. And get to a more positive relationship with this individual or a more positive relationship outside of it,” said Goodell.

Goodell said overall, arrests of NFL players had decreased after the revamped Personal Conduct Policy was put into place. He cited the “dramatic impact” the new policy has had on crime figures pertaining to the league.

“In the first year, 2015, the number of arrests for NFL players went down 40%. This year, we’re seeing another similar decrease. So what we’re seeing is the policy is working,” said Goodell. “Is it perfect? No. But we’re dealing with very imperfect circumstances. Very complex circumstances. You strive to get it right in every opportunity.”

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Source: NY Daily News Headlines Sports News

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