New domestic violence penalties were announced in the NFL, and readjustments to the old regulations seem to make up for past mistakes. In a recent letter to all team owners on this past Thursday, the NFL’s commissioner Roger Goodell, stated new punishments for any player who committed “assault, battery, domestic violence or sexual assault” would be subject to much harsher penalties. A first time offender that violates the agreement will receive a six game ban with suspended pay. For a repeat offender, the penalty is a lifetime ban from the NFL. Although a player has an option to file for reinstatement after one year, Goodell wrote in his letter “that there will be no presumption or guarantee that the petition will be approved.” The strict new rules do not apply only to players, but employee staff as well.
The revised penalty, which was made without input from the NFL Players Association, was allowed to do so under the league’s personal conduct policy. The act of the league’s commissioner was done after receiving backlash from women’s rights groups when Goodell suspended Baltimore Ravens’ Ray Rice for only two games after he physically assaulted his fiancé. The assault was captured on a camera of a hotel, where Rice was seen pulling the unconscious woman out of an elevator, where the assault allegedly took place.
In a recent interview with the media on Thursday, Goodell admitted that he had made a bad decision. He goes on to say in the interview, how he mishandled the running back’s case.
“The decision of disciplinary actions led the public to question our organization’s sincerity, as well as our commitment, and if we did in fact fully understand the toll that domestic violence has inflicted on so many families,” said Goodell.
In the letter that he wrote on USA Today Sports, the commissioner talks about “taking responsibility for both the incorrect decision, and making sure that the actions of the NFL properly reflect our values.” A readjustment of thought in the NFL’s policies forced its commissioner to take a firmer stance on domestic violence issues and future penalties. Goodell seems to have a much better understanding of the gravity of the issue and said “Simply put, our organization has to do better. And we will.”
Goodell continues in his reflective letter, about the possible reasons for backlash and anger concerning Rice’s two game suspension. “A lot of the criticism I now realize came from a fundamental recognition that the organization that we represent is a leader, and we should do more to stand up for important values. And to not only stand up for them, but to project those values in a way that has a positive impact beyond just professional football. The NFL sincerely embraces that role and its responsibility. We are open to listen to any constructive feedback, positive or negative, that our audience may have to say, and to strive for continuous improvement in all of our actions.”
The new decision by a tactful Commissioner to rearrange some of the league’s policies appears to be a victory for women who are mistreated, and the crusaders who fight on their behalf. According to Safe Horizon.org, one in four women will experience domestic violence in their lifetime. More than 4 million woman will have been physically abused by their spouse or partner, and every year, a staggering one in three women who are victims of homicide are killed by their partner. With sobering statics like these, the NFL appears to have made a fair and reasonable readjustment to their domestic violence penalties.
By Theodore Borders