Ray Rice, a running back for the NFL's Baltimore Ravens, was just issued a 2 game suspension for hitting his partner in the face so hard he knocked her unconscious.
This is just the most recent example of the NFL’s persistent and serious problem with players committing violence against women. Of 32 teams, 21 have players that have been charged at some point with domestic or sexual violence.
What’s even more appalling is how the NFL chooses to punish players who commit these crimes. While Rice sits out of the first two games of the 2014 season his teammate, Will Hill, will be suspended for six games for marijuana use. In fact, the NFL consistently hands down stricter punishments for breaking the substance abuse policy than for committing violent crimes against female partners and acquaintances.
Comissioner Roger Goodell has acknowledged the NFL has a domestic violence problem and said it’s the responsibility of the NFL “to do some things to combat this problem.” One thing the NFL must do is establish consistent, mandatory disciplinary procedures for violations of the league’s ‘personal conduct policy’ similar to the mandatory minimum 4 game suspension players face if they violate the substance abuse policy.
When the NFL doesn’t take domestic violence seriously the league is sending a message to its players, its team owners, and its fans they shouldn’t either. The NFL is telling women, one in four of which will be a victim of domestic violence, that what happens to them, to quote Ravens head coach John Harbaugh when asked about Rice’s actions, is “not that big of a deal.”
If the NFL doesn't start taking violence against women seriously now, when will it ever? It’s time to hold the NFL accountable for what it does, not what its Commissioner and others say it will do.
Please join me in asking Commissioner Goodell to create consistent, mandatory disciplinary consequences for players who commit domestic violence and sexual assault.