NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell said Friday there's a misunderstanding among those who criticize the league for its perceived problems with punishment when it comes to issues such as domestic violence and touchdown celebrations.
Richard Conway of the BBC spoke with Goodell about the backlash the league has received in the wake of the Josh Brown domestic-violence case. The commissioner said he believes it's hard for those on the outside to grasp how the NFL handles discipline.
"I understand the public's misunderstanding of those things and how that can be difficult for them to understand how we get to those positions," Goodell said. "But those are things that we have to do. I think it's a lot deeper and a lot more complicated than it appears, but it gets a lot of focus."
Despite a league mandate from 2014 that called for a six-game ban for a first domestic-violence offense, Brown was suspended for one game after the NFL investigated his May 2015 arrest.
The New York Giants kicker was moved to the commissioner's exempt list Friday after the league reopened its investigation, per NFL.com. Brown is not allowed to participate in team activities until he's removed from the list.
Meanwhile, the NFL has dispensed a steady stream of fines during the first six weeks of the regular season for touchdown celebrations. Just this week, Mike Jones of the Washington Post reported Redskins tight end Vernon Davis was fined $12,154 for shooting the football like a basketball.
CBS Sports' Evan Washburn reported the league threatened to eject Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver Antonio Brown from his team's game against the New York Jets on Oct. 9 if he didn't take off his Muhammad Ali tribute cleats (h/t Sporting News).
Goodell told Conway the league was trying to create a professional environment:
You have to dress in a certain way, you have to perform in a certain way and within certain rules. And what anyone does on that field reflects on everybody. And off the field. And that's why we all focus so much on "these are the standards we want to meet and let's meet them."
There's always a healthy balance there of exuberance from a big play. You want to see that type of thing. But it can quickly get out of hand if it gets to taunting where it can lead to someone retaliating and you get an escalation of issues on the field that are not professional in any way and not sportsmanship.
It comes as no surprise that player discipline is a hot-button topic as the league and its Players Association begin conversations about a new collective bargaining agreement. ESPN.com's Dan Graziano reported Oct. 15 that owners reached out to the NFLPA even though the current deal goes through 2020.
NFLPA president Eric Winston told Mark Maske of the Washington Post last August that it's "hard to imagine" a new CBA getting done unless the discipline process, including Goodell's power to hear appeals, is changed moving forward.