Roger Goodell didn't have much of an alternative.
Not after the intense Ray Rice backlash.
He needed to do something that sent a strong message.
Done. Better late than never.
Less than a month after issuing the Baltimore Ravens running back a weak, two-game suspension for his involvement in a domestic violence case that left Janay Parker, then Rice's fiancee and now his wife, unconscious, Goodell revealed a new domestic violence policy.
Six games for a first offense. A lifetime ban for the second.
It's no longer the NFL way that in an apples-to-oranges comparison, a player can get a four-game ban for taking a fertility drug and two games for knocking out his girlfriend.
"In business and in life, we look to get better as we moved forward," Amy Trask, the former Oakland Raiders CEO, told USA TODAY Sports. "Just because it wasn't in place before, isn't it great that it is now? People should step back and say we have a chance to do it better. That's what Roger has done."
Trask, now an analyst for the CBS Sports Network, was the NFL's highest-ranking female executive for more than two decades. She hails the policy for the message it sends on a couple of levels.
"It is designed not only to discipline, but to educate," Trask said.
With its position as the nation's most popular sport – supported by increasing millions of female fans – the NFL can use its platform to perhaps bring more awareness to domestic violence issues than scores of public service announcements from organizations that are solely committed to the cause.
That's the NFL's reach – and the league's wide-ranging presence is also a reason why Goodell was deservedly scorched for coming across as so soft in the Rice case.
At least now Goodell – whom I believe has always taken domestic violence as a serious issue – is showing that he gets it enough to put his immense power behind a new policy.
That Goodell admitted a mistake in settling the Rice case could resonate, too, as the league tries to restore public trust that undoubtedly waned to some degree amid the backlash.
"I think it shows great leadership, at a time when our country needs leadership," New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft told USA TODAY Sports.
That Kraft alluded to society at large speaks to the NFL's range – and responsibility.
"The NFL is part of American culture in a special way," Kraft said. "People are holding the NFL to a higher standard on a lot of issues, even though we're a microcosm of the world."
Kraft feels it was important for the league to establish a clear-cut policy, given the serious nature of domestic violence – and against the backdrop of a competitive environment where 32 teams operate with different standards.
In Rice's case, the criticism of Goodell was compounded by the question of whether the Ravens erred by not disciplining the running back. Now such gray area has been erased.
Still, if Rice played for the Patriots, he would be an ex-Patriot now, based on the team's track record.