Whether or not you follow sports, there are a few things that nearly everyone knows about the NFL — the championship is called the Super Bowl, the athletes are ridiculously overpaid and make us regret not taking Physical Education more seriously, and domestic abuse committed by players is mostly ignored.
Until yesterday, when Commissioner Roger Goodell sent out a memo to every team owner, outlying the NFL’s stance on domestic abuse and violence, and the implementation of new penalties for players that are caught in the midst of domestic abuse allegations or charges.
At times, however, and despite our best efforts, we fall short of our goals. We clearly did so in response to a recent incident of domestic violence. We allowed our standards to fall below where they should be and lost an important opportunity to emphasize our strong stance on a critical issue and the effective programs we have in place. My disciplinary decision led the public to question our sincerity, our commitment, and whether we understood the toll that domestic violence inflicts on so many families. I take responsibility both for the decision and for ensuring that our actions in the future properly reflect our values. I didn’t get it right. Simply put, we have to do better. And we will.
These comments are in reference to recent scandals involving Ray Rice – who knocked hs now-wife unconscious and then proceeded to drag her throughout a hotel in Atlantic City. Charges were ultimately not pursued by the Atlantic City police, because they supposedly didn’t have enough evidence to know what actually happened in the elevator.
In Atlantic City.
In a CASINO.
ONE OF THE MOST CAMERA LADEN POINTS IN THE NEW WORLD.
The NFL decided to suspend Ray Rice for two games. The Baltimore Ravens decided to tweet the following:
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The press conference was awful, to be honest. The announcement of the two-game suspension caused people to wonder why Rice could be suspended for more games because of performance-enhancing drug allegations, or whether Brown’s Josh Gordon could be suspended for an entire season this year (after serving a two-game suspension in 2013,still leading the league in yards receiving) for popping up positive for marijuana.
That’s right – up until yesterday, the NFL had a harder line on MARIJUANA USE than DOMESTIC VIOLENCE where the aftermath was caught on camera.
These steps are based on a clear, simple principle: domestic violence and sexual assault are wrong. They are illegal. They have no place in the NFL and are unacceptable in any way, under any circumstances. That has been and remains our policy.
It’s about time that the NFL turns up an opinion. The good news is that the policy is pretty tough. In addition to outlining resources such as counseling, resources for victims and abusers, and a new (and enhanced) educational program on these crimes, there’s a very strict and fair disciplinary action as well. There’s consideration for false allegations and time allowed for police investigations. There’s also consideration for the severity of abuse — the inclusion of a weapon, choking, repeated striking (bad news for you, Chris Brown), or if the act is in the presence of a child or committed against a pregnant woman.
The first offense results in a minimum six-game ban. Second offense is a lifetime ban, with the allowance that a player could apply for readmission after a year — but no assurances that they’ll be approved.
The NFL seems to finally have started to realize that if you want to claim you’re a non-profit, you need to pay attention to your public image. You’ve got to please the groups that can make life very hard for you, and frankly, you need to do the RIGHT thing.