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NFL notebook: Goodell defends Rice's 2-game suspension

| Friday, Aug. 1, 2014, 8:21 p.m.

NFL commissioner Roger Goodell defended the league Friday against criticism that it was too lenient in suspending Ray Rice two games for his “horrible mistake.”

“We just can't make up the discipline,” Goodell said. “It has to be consistent with other cases. And it was in this matter.”

Goodell stressed the Ravens running back has assumed responsibility for his conduct, has no history of assault and is following a court order to enter a diversionary program following his domestic violence arrest.

“We've dealt with it in a serious manner, and we're very confident that this young man understands where he is and what he needs to do going forward,” Goodell said. “I think what's important here is Ray has taken responsibility for this.”

Goodell spoke a day before the Pro Football Hall of Fame induction ceremony. It was his first opportunity to answer questions regarding Rice since the league disciplined him July 24.

A day earlier, Rice apologized at training camp in his first comments since the suspension. He called his actions “totally inexcusable” and acknowledged he must live with this for the rest of his life.

The six-year veteran will miss the season opener against Cincinnati on Sept. 7 and the Sept. 11 game against the Steelers.

Rice allegedly struck then-fiancee Janay Palmer, now his wife, on Feb. 15 in Atlantic City, N.J. Rice, 27, has been accepted into a diversion program and upon completion could result in the charges being expunged.

Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger was suspended six games in 2010 after being accused of sexually assaulting a 20-year-old college student. That suspension was eventually reduced to four games.

Goodell said, unlike Roethlisberger, Rice had not had off-field problems before.

“If it's a first offense, someone who's had a strong background of being very responsible in the community, doing the right things and not violating other policies or anything else that reflect poorly on the NFL, then we would take that into account,” Goodell said. “And when there's a pattern, we also take that into account on the other side.”

Many critics contend Rice's suspension is insufficient when compared to longer suspensions for players who violate the league's substance abuse policy. Goodell noted there is a policy in place to determine punishment based on the number of times a player tests positive.

WR Gordon, NFL meet

Browns receiver Gordon met with NFL officials in New York to appeal a possible indefinite suspension for violating the league's substance abuse policy.

Gordon's attorney, Maurice Suh, is expected to argue that Gordon tested positive for marijuana because of secondhand smoke, a defense they planned to enhance with witnesses.

Goodell said a decision will be based on the information at the hearing.

“Josh is going through a process right now, and I'm not part of that process,” Goodell said. “At some point in time I may have an opportunity to be involved, and when I am, I look forward to meeting him.”

Giants sign WM's Gress

West Mifflin native and former Penn State tackle Adam Gress signed with the Giants, his agent confirmed.

The 6-foot-7, 300-pound Gress appeared in 32 games in his Nittany Lions career, starting 12. This past season he was part of a three-tackle rotation for PSU, starting eight of 12 games.

Gress participated in summer minicamp tryouts with the Giants, Steelers and Dolphins.

Around the league

The Cardinals signed former Steelers offensive lineman Max Starks. The 32-year-old was cut by the Chargers last August and played in two games with the Rams last season. … Jaguars rookie receiver Allen Robinson will miss extended time with another hamstring injury. The second-round draft pick from Penn State, one of the stars of training camp, may miss the rest of camp and maybe the entire preseason. ... The Packers unveiled a bronze statue outside their stadium that honors the Lambeau Leap.

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