NFL weighing harsher penalties

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Thursday, August 14, 2014

With criticism of the league's handling of Ray Rice's discipline still fresh, several people familiar with new deliberations told The Washington Post that the NFL is contemplating strengthening penalties for players who commit acts of domestic violence.

According to sources cited in its report, the Post said the new policy could set suspensions of four to six games without pay for a first offense and potentially a season-long ban for a second offense.

"We need to have stricter penalties," one person with knowledge of the league's deliberations told the Post. "I think you will see that. I believe the commissioner and others would like to see stricter penalties. We need to be more vigilant."

The changes, if implemented, would come in the wake of backlash the league and commissioner Roger Goodell received after announcing a two-game suspension for Rice late last month.

The Baltimore Ravens running back was arrested Feb. 15, after he allegedly struck then-fiancée Janay Palmer during an altercation at an Atlantic City hotel. Video surfaced online showing Rice dragging an apparently unconscious Palmer out of an elevator. The couple has since married.

Earlier this month, Goodell said that the league must remain consistent in its punishment and that Rice's suspension was in line with previous penalties under similar circumstances.

"We can't just make up the discipline," Goodell said during Hall of Fame weekend in Canton, Ohio. "It has to be consistent with other cases, and it was in this matter."

Goodell also fielded multiple questions about the widespread public reaction to the length of Rice's suspension, which has been criticized as lenient compared with other suspensions issued by the league for substance abuse and off-field incidents.

However, the source cited by the Post says the league's decision "to stick with precedent" from previous NFL disciplinary measures in determining the length of Rice's suspension perhaps did not go far enough.

"A lot of us were disturbed by what we saw" in the Rice case, the person told the Post. "I think you will see something in probably the next few weeks. A first offense could be four to six games, definitely more than two. A second offense might be a year."

Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.

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