The NFL clearly wants to send a message.

This case is different. And it could change the way it does its business.

The NFL levied a 10-game suspension on Greg Hardy Wednesday for violating the league's personal conduct policy after "using physical force" on his ex-girlfriend. And based on comments from league executives Friday explaining the reasoning behind that decision, it leaves no doubt that Hardy's suspension – regardless of what happens on appeal – is a landmark case in the enforcement of domestic violence and sexual assault incidents.

"With the amount of information we now have at our disposal, it's revolutionary," NFL commissioner Roger Goodell told USA TODAY Sports. "That we can conduct investigations now, independent of law enforcement, and gather all the details we need, we can make informed decisions. We can make the right decisions. We know that hasn't always been the case, so we surrounded ourselves with the best people we could – people who know about this.

"And the work we've done so far is something we're very proud of."

Speaking Friday to the Associated Press Sports Editors from NFL headquarters in Midtown Manhattan, Goodell and other executives addressed the biggest issues facing the league. Also present were Anna Isaacson, vice president of social responsibility, Jeff Pash, executive vice president and general counsel, and Lisa Friel, NFL senior vice president and special counsel for investigations – the woman who led the investigation on Hardy.

Before Hardy's case, the NFL waited for law enforcement to complete its investigation before enforcing discipline. This time, Friel and T&M Protection Resources conducted the NFL's independent review.

According to Pash, Hardy's discipline was determined through discussions involving Goodell and other executives, a "thorough" review that produced "voluminous records," information from court proceedings and various meetings with Hardy, his representatives and the players' union.

"Friel found that he had committed those acts," Pash said.

It's worth noting that prosecutors in North Carolina decided to drop charges after Nicole Holder, the victim in Hardy's case could not be found after the two sides reached a civil settlement.

"I think the league can lead and show the rest of the country what it's like when a business is responsible and takes these things seriously," Friel said. "I think we can show how to handle domestic violence, sexual assault and similar types of misconduct and have other business follow suit and hold their employees to certain standards."

Last year, the NFL initially opted to suspend former Baltimore Ravens running back Ray Rice two games for knocking out his then-fiancee.