Commissioner Roger Goodell said Wednesday the NFL won’t pay for video evidence in cases involving domestic violence, and he defended the league’s handling of those investigations.
Speaking after owners held their annual winter meeting, Goodell said the NFL’s approach to dealing with domestic violence is “extraordinary” and that the league has some of the highest standards of any organization.
The NFL came under scrutiny again when surveillance video showed former Kansas City running back Kareem Hunt shoving and kicking a woman in a Cleveland hotel in February. Hunt wasn’t disciplined before the video was released by TMZ.
After the video came out, Hunt was placed on the commissioner’s exempt list, the equivalent of suspending him indefinitely with pay. The Chiefs waived him almost immediately after that.
Goodell said the hotel and police in Cleveland declined to release the video to the league.
“First off, we don’t pay for video evidence,” Goodell said. “From our standpoint, we think that’s not appropriate for a league organization to do that.
“We obtained material that we have access to. But we’re not going to do it by corrupting people or trying to find a way to bribe them into giving us video. That’s not what we do.”
Goodell said the league acted quickly once the video became public.
“I think what we’re doing as a league is extraordinary,” Goodell said. “We take this seriously. As a league, I think we’ve responded very quickly. I think that example is being on the commissioner exempt list. They were off the field within an hour.”
Todd Jones, the NFL’s special counsel for conduct and a former prosecutor, also said he doesn’t think the NFL should pay for video evidence.
“To become mercenary and pay for videos opens up a Pandora’s box of all kinds of opportunities and things that may come to us from not just surveillance video in public places or surveillance video in residences, but you’re talking about the world of social media and everybody on a smartphone,” Jones said.
The league announced what it said were stronger provisions for the Rooney Rule, which is designed to promote diversity in hiring practices.
Among several changes, clubs now must interview at least one candidate of diversity from a list compiled by an advisory panel, or a candidate not currently employed by the team. The league is also requiring teams to keep records and provide them when asked by the commissioner.
When Oakland owner Mark Davis hired Jon Gruden before this season, there were questions of whether he followed the Rooney Rule.
“Obviously it must be necessary in society for some reason. It’s never been necessary for the Raiders,” Davis said, noting his hiring of general manager Reggie McKenzie, who was fired this week.
“I don’t work like that. But I think if they strengthen it, that’s great. And we’re going to follow that, just as we did last year. It’ll be a little more transparent this time.”
Davis said a lawsuit filed by the city seeking monetary damages over the team’s move to Las Vegas was “meritless” and said he hadn’t decided whether the Raiders will play in Oakland next season. Davis was noncommittal on potential temporary homes.
Davis wouldn’t say how much the lawsuit would influence his decision on where to play in 2019. The club’s move was further validated by the NFL announcing Wednesday that the 2020 draft will be in Las Vegas, just a few months before the Raiders’ debut there.
“Emotionally, I don’t want to pay for my own lawsuit,” Davis said. “But for the fans, it’s something I’ve got to think about.”