- Associated Press - Thursday, September 18, 2014

NEWARK, N.J. — New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie is playing defense for embattled NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell.

Christie said Thursday he strongly believes Goodell should stay in his job despite mounting criticism over his handling of a domestic violence incident involving former Baltimore Ravens running back Ray Rice.

“He’s an outstanding man, an honest man in my interaction with him,” said Christie during an evening appearance on New Jersey 101.5 FM’s “Ask the Governor” call-in show, when asked whether Goodell should stay or go.

Christie, who worked with the commissioner during the lead-up to the Super Bowl, said Goodell should not be judged for a single error.

“I absolutely believe Roger Goodell is a good, honest, decent man that has great integrity. He’s admitted he made a mistake in the Rice case in his initial” handling of the incident, Christie said, adding “We have to be a society that considers the totality of somebody’s work and their life.”

“In my mind, if I were an NFL owner, I’d be voting to keep Roger Goodell,” he said.

Goodell has been under fire since video emerged showing Rice knocking his then-fiancee unconscious with a punch Feb. 15 in Atlantic City’s Revel Casino Hotel. Rice avoided trial by agreeing to a pretrial intervention program and was initially suspended from the NFL for two games. But after the video was made public, he was cut by the Baltimore Ravens and suspended by the league.

Goodell has insisted the league didn’t see the violent images until they were released by TMZ. But a law enforcement official told The Associated Press he sent a version of the video to an NFL executive five months ago.

Asked by host Eric Scott about “the mess that is the NFL right now,” Christie expressed dismay.

“It’s sad,” he said. “You know, there’s just no excuse or rational for domestic violence.”


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