NFL commissioner Roger Goodell told Bleacher Report's Mike Freeman that 2014, which was marked by several off-the-field incidents, was a "learning year" for the league.
The league dealt with a string of domestic violence cases featuring high-profile players. The league, and Goodell in particular, was heavily criticized for its responses, particularly when Goodell initially suspended Ravens running back Ray Rice just two games for hitting his then-fiancée (and now-wife) Janay Palmer in an Atlantic City casino elevator. After video of Rice hitting Palmer was released, Goodell suspended Rice indefinitely and the Ravens released him.
After a tumultuous year, Goodell said he wants the public to continue holding the league to a high standard.
Has he ever seen the NFL held to a higher standard than now?
"No, I haven't," he said. "But that is what I meant when I said people hold the NFL to a higher standard. Yes, maybe that has a negative when you don't hit that bar. But we embrace that. We don't want to have it any other way. People expect a lot from us, and we have to deliver on it. That drives us. That inspires us. That is why we continuously look to see how we can improve the experience for our fans and improve the game for our players and coaches. And do everything we can to get better."
In addition to the Rice case, Vikings running back Adrian Peterson was suspended after being charged with child abuse. Panthers defensive end Greg Hardy was inactive for the final 15 games of the season after being convicted in the offseason for domestic violence.
Goodell told Bleacher Report that the NFL will learn from its mistakes this year.
"It's a learning year," he said. "We stress that in our organization all the time, about learning and getting better. That's a focus that we always have. As I look back at this year, I continue to see the game get better, get stronger, get safer. We're protecting our players from unnecessary injuries. We like the way we're integrating technology into the game. We saw it with instant replay this year, and we saw it with tablets on the sidelines, and I think that will continue to accelerate and bring technology into the game and innovate further."
- Paul Palladino