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NFL on domestic violence: 6 games for 1st offense; lifetime ban afterward

By Ryan Wilson | CBSSports.com

In the future, players guilty of domestic violence will face stiffer penalties than Ray Rice's two-game suspension. (USATSI)
Players guilty of domestic violence will face stiffer penalties than Ray Rice's two-game suspension. (USATSI)

In a letter to NFL owners Thursday, the league announced that it will levy stiffer sanctions for domestic violence offenses: Six games for a first offense and a lifetime ban for a second offense, reports CBS Sports NFL Insider Jason La Canfora.

According to ESPN.com's Jane McManus, players facing a lifetime ban would be able to apply for reinstatement under the new policy.

Whether players like Greg Hardy and Daryl Washington would be grandfathered in, or Ray Rice would now have one strike against him regarding future transgressions remains unknown, according to La Canfora. The league also hasn't offered up specifics on when sanctions would come, whether after the legal process plays out or if allegations would be enough to trigger a response.

"Each case will be ‎addressed individually based on its own merits," an NFL spokesman told La Canfora.

The change comes a month after the NFL suspended Ravens running back Ray Rice two games for a physical incident with his soon-to-be wife at an Atlantic City hotel last February. In March, Rice was indicted on one count of aggravated assault, and by May, Rice had been accepted into a pretrial intervention program, which meant that he will avoid prosecution and possible jail time.

NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell was criticized for what many considered to be lenient sanctions against Rice. And U.S. Senators Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), Tammy Baldwin (D-Wis.) and Chris Murphy (D-Conn.) sent letters to Goodell calling for Rice to face a harsher sanctions beyond the two-game suspension handed down by the league.

In late July, NFL vice president Adolpho Birch called Rice's punishment "appropriate," and days later Goodell explained that, "We have a very firm policy that domestic violence is not acceptable in the NFL. I think what's important here is Ray is taking responsibility. He's been accountable for his actions."

But in the letter to NFL owners Thursday, Goodell admitted that "I didn't get it right."

The Washington Post reported two weeks ago that the league was considering tougher measures.

A lot of us were disturbed by what we saw," a source told the Post at the time regarding the Rice case. "I think you will see something in probably the next few weeks. ... We need to have stricter penalties. I think you will see that. I believe the commissioner and others would like to see stricter penalties. We need to be more vigilant."

In a press conference days after the punishment was announced, Rice was asked if missing two games was fair.

"I don't have any control over what the punishment was," the Ravens running back said at the time. "I'm being punished on a day-to-day basis. No football games or money was going to determine what I have to live with the rest of my life. ... I never planned on appealing the punishment ... all I do know is that we went through the whole legal process, the commissioner process and whatever was decided was out of my control."

You can read Goodell's letter to the owners here.

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