NFL Commissioner Changes Domestic Violence Policy

GoodellAfter criticism, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell issued a 2000-word statement to change the league's domestic violence policy. Accused of assaulting his finance, Baltimore Ravens running back Ray Rice was suspended for two games. 

Backlash was fierce, with groups criticizing the punishment as too lenient-less than suspensions for some involvement with drugs.

Goodell admitted his mistake and changed the policy to six games after one incident of assault, battery, sexual assault, or domestic violence involving force. He included all employees in the policy. The New York Times describes the message sent to NFL owners as "a letter and accompanying memo" and called the change "stunning in its earnestness and clarity."

Here is excerpt from the entire message:

"At times, however, and despite our best efforts, we fall short of our goals. We clearly did so in response to a recent incident of domestic violence. We allowed our standards to fall below where they should be and lost an important opportunity to emphasize our strong stance on a critical issue and the effective programs we have in place. 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. Simply put, we have to do better. And we will."

Discussion Starters:

  • Describe Goodell's choice for a letter and memo. What were his other choices for conveying the message, and why did he choose these methods?
  • Assess Goodell's letter and memo. What works well, and what could be improved? Consider the intended audiences and communication objectives.