Roger Goodell deserves credit for getting tougher on domestic abuse

It is entirely to the credit of National Football League Commissioner Roger Goodell to admit that he ‘‘didn’t get it right’’ when he handed down a paltry two-game suspension to Ray Rice, the Baltimore Ravens running back who allegedly beat his then-fiancee to the point that she became unconscious. In response, Goodell announced new rules, detailed in a letter sent Thursday to the owners of the NFL’s 32 teams. The commissioner now plans to suspend a player for at least 6 weeks for the first offense and banish him from the league for a second offense, although after a year the player can appeal the ruling. These rules finally make domestic violence more serious in the eyes of the NFL than substance abuse, which generally brings a four-game suspension.

Goodell will have a chance to show his new toughness in dealing with Carolina Panthers star Greg Hardy, who was convicted in July of assaulting his ex-girlfriend. Hardy has appealed and requested a jury trial, which won’t happen until after the season. But that may be merely a delaying tactic; if Hardy has a strong claim of actual innocence, Goodell would be justified in waiting until after the legal case is complete. If not, the commissioner can send a strong message by applying the six-game suspension immediately.