KU prof says NFL toughening suspension policy for domestic assault shows public pressure can work

NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell’s decision to toughen penalties for players accused of domestic violence, shows that the public can influence large sports organizations, a Kansas University assistant professor said Friday.

Jordan Bass, executive director of KU’s Laboratory for the Study of Sport Management, said Goodell’s mea culpa “speaks to how extreme the backlash was.”

Goodell had caused a public outcry after he suspended Baltimore Ravens running back Ray Rice for two games after Rice was caught on video dragging his then-fiance off a casino elevator. Numerous advocates for women and families said the penalty was too lenient.

On Thursday, Goodell said the suspension was too light, and announced a new policy that players will face six-game suspensions for a first offense of domestic violence or sexual assault and at least a one-year ban for a second offense.

Bass said the policy change was a “positive first step.”