NEW YORK (Reuters) - National Football League Commissioner Roger Goodell, after more than a week out of public view, will hold a news conference on Friday on the league's handling of domestic violence as he looks to quell one of the biggest crises in NFL history.
The 55-year-old Goodell has been under fire over the NFL's slow and fumbled response to the Ray Rice domestic violence incident and questions about his leadership mushroomed as other cases came to light.
Rice, 27, has since been released by the Baltimore Ravens and suspended indefinitely by the NFL as the league grapples with how to handle the incendiary issue.
Former NFL most valuable player Adrian Peterson of the Minnesota Vikings and Greg Hardy of the Carolina Panthers have been placed on the league's "exempt" list until their domestic violence cases are resolved.
Peterson is accused of abusing his 4-year-old by hitting him with a tree branch as a punishment, while Hardy was convicted in July of assaulting and threatening his ex-girlfriend but he has appealed the verdict.
Women's groups and others have called for Goodell to resign from the post he has held since 2006.
Goodell's message is likely to be aimed at female fans the league has targeted in recent years to grow its fan base. "Unless they solve these problems decisively and put things in place to help solve these problems, women are going to voice their displeasure and take their economic power with them," said Kelley Skoloda, a women's marketing expert at Ketchum Inc. The NFL draws 6 million women to games every week and account for about 45 percent of the league's audience.
The domestic violence issue emerged when Goodell suspended Rice for two games after he knocked out fiancée Janay Palmer, who is now his wife, in an Atlantic City, New Jersey, casino elevator. Many saw the commissioner's penalty as too light for the crime.
Only when a video of the punch emerged on the website TMZ on Sept. 8 did Goodell decide to suspend Rice indefinitely.
The last interview Goodell granted was with CBS last week when he said no one in the league had seen the video of the punch until it went viral on the Internet. Many have questioned how the website TMZ could obtain the grainy security tape but the NFL could not.
Rice ultimately agreed to court-supervised counseling as part of a pre-trial intervention program. He has appealed his indefinite suspension from the NFL.
The Goodell news conference will be at 3 p.m. ET at a New York hotel.
(Reporting By Steve Ginsburg and Eric Kelsey; Editing by Mary Milliken)