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NFL announces domestic violence policy: Lifetime ban for 2nd offense

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In a letter to NFL owners Thursday, commissioner Roger Goodell announced a new domestic violence policy for all NFL personnel.

The letter said that for a first domestic violence offense, a player will be suspended for six games. A second offense will result in a lifetime ban.

The change comes after Goodell suspended Baltimore Ravens running back Ray Rice for two games after he was indicted on aggravated assault charges in March for an incident with his then-fiancée. Video footage showed Rice dragging an unconscious Janay Palmer, now his wife, out of an elevator in an Atlantic City casino. Rice received approval in June to enter a pretrial intervention program.

Goodell admitted in the letter that he "didn't get [the ruling] right."

In the letter, Goodell said:

My disciplinary decision led the public to question our sincerity, our commitment, and whether we understood the toll that domestic violence inflicts on so many families. I take responsibility both for the decision and for ensuring that our actions in the future properly reflect our values. I didn’t get it right.

Goodell also sent a memo to all personnel​ to explain the new policy.

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After Rice's suspension was announced, Goodell told reporters that the NFL had a "very firm policy that domestic violence is not acceptable."

The commissioner also said the NFL has to remain consistent with its discipline. In Rice's case, Goodell said the length of the suspension was influenced by the fact that Rice was not disciplined by the criminal justice system.

On July 31, Rice addressed the suspension at a news conference and said he has to "pay" for his actions because "violence of any kind, especially man on woman, is not right."

Under the new policy, players would be able to apply for reinstatement if given a lifetime ban.

The NFLPA released a statement Thursday afternoon in response to the new policy. The statement in full:

“We were informed today of the NFL’s decision to increase penalties on domestic violence offenders under the Personal Conduct Policy for all NFL employees. As we do in all disciplinary matters, if we believe that players’ due process rights are infringed upon during the course of discipline, we will assert and defend our members’ rights.”

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​- Sarah Barshop