Convicted domestic abusers aren’t heroes. Don’t let them play in the NFL.
I’ve been a football fan for years, proudly rooting for the Cleveland Browns through the good seasons and the bad ones. I’m also a social worker who works with children who have experienced domestic violence in their families. That’s why I was sickened to find out that NFL players and staff can be convicted of domestic violence in a court of law and keep their jobs. My young clients shouldn’t be told by the NFL that it’s ok for domestic abusers to hurt people, and still be professional sports heroes. If the NFL really takes domestic violence seriously, why do they think it’s ok to wait until someone is criminally convicted of domestic violence twice before they finally get kicked out? Many people, but especially our kids, look up to NFL players -- some even consider them heroes. The NFL even refers to its players as heroes on their own web site. And as a social worker who works with children who have experienced domestic violence in their families, I know how important inspiring role models can be. But to me, a real hero is a hero on and off the field. Children who experience domestic violence need to know that how they or their abused parent have been treated is not okay. They need to see that domestic violence is unacceptable whether it’s someone’s parent hitting a child, or an NFL player hurting his wife or girlfriend. Tell the NFL that if a court convicts a football player or staff member of domestic violence, that person shouldn’t get to keep being a hero every Sunday. NFL commentator and Hall of Fame member Terry Bradshaw recently said, “Anybody, in my opinion, who lays a hand on a woman, I don't care who you are, my friend: you never come back in this league. … I really, really seriously hope, eventually, we never have a place in the NFL for people who ... strike a woman.” I agree. The NFL should not be home to men convicted of domestic violence. But the NFL’s current policy sends a message to everyone who looks up to people in the NFL that domestic abusers still get to be heroes. This is wrong. Sign my petition. Tell the NFL that if someone is convicted of domestic violence, they should be kicked out of the NFL.
Bench Johnny Manziel for domestic violence
Last week, Cleveland Browns’ quarterback Johnny Manziel was pulled over by the police. Multiple 911 callers had reported that he was driving erratically and he appeared to be holding his girlfriend by the neck in the car. When questioned, Manziel’s girlfriend said that he hit her but in spite of this and Manziel's own admission that he had been drinking earlier in the day, the officers gave him a pass and did not file any charges. But that doesn’t mean that he should receive a pass from the NFL. Join me in asking the NFL to bench Johnny Manziel until the investigation into his alleged violence is complete. Just last season, the NFL announced it was taking a stronger stance on domestic violence and sexual assault, and planned to make it clear that violence had no place within the organization. The league’s personal conduct policy was revised to state explicitly that such incidents would be subject to enhanced discipline. According to this policy, Manziel should be suspended from games. Instead, the NFL is choosing to protect their player and send a message to football fans across the country that domestic violence is acceptable. Manziel has his very own offensive line protecting him from justice. Enough is enough. We want to see that the NFL’s newly enhanced commitment to ending domestic violence applies to all players. Please sign my petition asking the NFL to follow its own policy and bench Johnny Manziel.
Set Consistent Punishment Guidelines for NFL Players Who Commit Violence Against Women
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.