NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell at the Super Bowl in 2009. Wikimedia Commons

Admitting that he hadn’t gone far enough in guiding the National Football League’s policy on domestic violence and had flubbed the Ray Rice case in late July, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell stepped up Thursday to announce more stringent rules for players and other employees.

Also see: NFL News

Last month, Baltimore Ravens running back Rice was barred from playing two games after he was charged with assaulting his then-fiancée, Janay Palmer, in an altercation in February at an Atlantic City casino.

The discrepancy between the NFL’s light penalty for Rice’s offense (Palmer, who is now his wife, appeared unconscious in a video recording from the scene), and the harsher punishments doled out for other, and some would say lesser, infractions caused an uproar after the league’s initial ruling on Rice.

Here’s what Goodell said, in a letter addressed to team owners, to claim responsibility and introduce the new regulations (via The New York Times):

“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,” Goodell said in a letter to team owners. “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. Simply put, we have to do better. And we will.”

Goodell said that effective immediately any N.F.L. employee — not only a player — who is found to have engaged in assault, battery, domestic violence or sexual assault that involved physical force will be suspended without pay for six games for a first offense. Second-time offenders will be banished from the league for at least one year.

Goodell said that second-time offenders could petition to be reinstated after one year, but that “there will be no presumption or assurance that the petition will be granted.”

The paper added that the NFL chief’s mea culpa “was stunning in its earnestness and clarity,” while also noting that Goodell has been hit with a number of controversies in his eight years on top that he hasn’t handled as effectively, and that the release of his letter happened “a week before the start of the regular season and ahead of a three-day weekend, when many people are on vacation.”

–Posted by Kasia Anderson

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