NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell wrapped up the annual Fall League Meeting on Wednesday by discussing the league's commitment toward and relationship with social issues in the wake of a string of high-profile incidents highlighted by the Ray Rice domestic violence case.
The Rice case, which raised questions not only about the effectiveness of the league's response to various issues, but also the timing of punishments and duration of suspensions, prompted a full-scale independent investigation by former FBI director Robert Mueller. Giants co-owner and president John Mara said the findings of the investigation could take months.
"We talked specifically about the investigation process," Goodell said, "and questions continued to be debated on whether we should rely completely on law enforcement or have independent investigations, and the time period at which those investigations would occur.
"There were discussions based on maybe basing interim decisions, possibly with a leave of absence, until the findings of fact by a court or some legal or law enforcement entity."
While Goodell said that domestic violence is not a football-only issue, he said his focus was "getting the house in order." That was a theme Goodell attempted to stick with through his press conference.
In order to do so, the commissioner brought up some internal discussions which, he says, have been held among owners for the last year about the scope of Goodell's power. He was asked specifically if it may be best for the NFL if he does not have total autonomy when it comes to doling out punishments.
"Everything is on the table, I said that several weeks ago," Goodell stated. " ... We discussed alternatives well in advance to this. Are there different alternatives that will make this more efficient or effective?"
Goodell touched on a few other topics during his press conference:
"I've always been reluctant until we have a solution to project where we are. There are reasons for optimism but that can change quickly also," he said. "So until we have a solution that we're all comfortable with and ownerships voted on it, I'm not gonna really make any comment about whether that's realistic or that's a high probability or not. I think what we want to do is make sure we're doing the work to evaluate the alternatives, understand those alternatives and if there's an alternative that makes sense, bring that to the membership. But until we do that I couldn't make any projections about whether we're close or we're not. To me, at the end of the day, it's not about whether we're closer, it's about whether we get there. So we are either gonna get there and do it successfully or we're not."
» Goodell and the owners began the meeting by unanimously approving the sale of the Buffalo Bills to new owners Terry and Kim Pegula.
"I think this was a great outcome for Bills fans, Western New York and Terry and Kim Pegula ... they're enthusiastic about their ownership."
» Initially, Goodell said that he would take until the Super Bowl to overhaul the league's disciplinary plan. Wednesday, he said he intends on sticking to that plan, and hopes to beat the initial timetable.