NFL dormant on violence

The NFL’s recent devotion of commercial time to anti-domestic violence PSAs is a retroactive and insufficient attempt at saving face.

The public service announcements — which were conducted by NO MORE, an anti-domestic violence and sexual assault campaign — aired during last week’s games.

In light of the domestic abuse controversies surrounding NFL players Ray Rice and Adrian Peterson, it’s clear these ads are a poor attempt on the league’s part to boost their tainted image following their pitiable handling of these cases.

Video of Rice dragging his fiancée out of an elevator emerged in February, and a grand jury indicted him for third-degree aggravated assault in March. Despite this, NFL commissioner Roger Goodell didn’t rebuke Rice until July, in the form of a two-game suspension.

It was only following a month of immense criticism that Goodell introduced a new NFL domestic violence policy, where players are given a six-game suspension without pay for a first offence and a second offence earns an indefinite ban.

This policy is inadequate. All it does is increase the number of games a player has to miss if they’re found responsible for sexual and physical misconduct — if they’re found responsible at all.

It wasn’t until September — when explicit footage of Rice physically abusing his fiancée emerged — that the Baltimore Ravens terminated Rice’s contract.

The NFL’s inaction is by no means unique to Rice’s case. When Peterson was indicted on child abuse charges in September, the Minnesota Vikings responded by deactivating the running back for one game — then reinstating him. He was then barred from the team indefinitely two days later.

Time and time again, Goodell and the NFL have had the opportunity to be proactive in punishing their players’ misconduct. Instead, any disciplinary action has been the result of immense pressure by the public.

The NO MORE PSAs alone are inadequate. Awareness of domestic violence is important, but PSAs aren’t what’s needed to reform the NFL.

If NFL owners genuinely wish to challenge domestic violence, stronger league policies need to be implemented and individual teams need to take greater disciplinary initiative.

Journal Editorial Board

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