NFL owners could consider ousting Roger Goodell from his position as commissioner of the NFL if the independent investigation headed by former FBI director Robert Mueller III finds that Goodell was guilty of "willful and egregious misconduct" in the league's handling of the Ray Rice incident, according to a report from Mark Maske of The Washington Post.
“He’s been a very good commissioner and he’s done great things for the league,” a high-ranking executive with one NFL team said. “The presumption is that he’s telling the truth and the investigation will demonstrate that. We’ll go by the report [generated by Mueller’s investigation]. If the report says something different, we’ll take the appropriate action.”
Goodell has come under intense scrutiny since the release of a video showing Rice striking his then-fiancée, now-wife, Janay Palmer. On Tuesday, Goodell said he had never seen the video. Earlier Tuesday, TMZ.com reported Goodell never asked the casino to see the video.
The Associated Press reported Wednesday that a law enforcement official said he sent the video to an NFL executive in April. The official told the AP he could not confirm whether anyone watched the video. The NFL has asked a former FBI director to head an "independent" investigation into the league's handling of the Rice case.
The Baltimore Ravens terminated Rice's contract after the video was released. The NFL also suspended him indefinitely.
Goodell wrote in a letter to the NFL Players Association that Rice's suspension was changed from two games to indefinite because the video shows a "starkly different sequence of events" from what Rice and his representatives described in a disciplinary meeting in June. A report from ESPN's Outside the Lines this week said Rice told Goodell in the meeting that he punched Palmer.
Maske reported earlier this week that Goodell remains insistent he won't resign.
The incident occurred inside an elevator at the Revel Hotel and Casino in Atlantic City on Feb. 15. Rice pleaded not guilty to an aggravated assault charge and avoided trial. He was recently approved to enter a pre-trial intervention program.
- Chris Johnson