The National Football League has decided to implement stronger penalties for domestic violence offenders in the wake of public outcry over the two-game suspension handed down to Baltimore Ravens running back Ray Rice.
In a memo to all 32 teams, commissioner Roger Goodell stated that he “didn’t get it right” in reference to the decision to suspend Ray Rice for a mere two games. Anyone who saw the video of Rice dragging his wife’s unconscious body out of the casino elevator probably feels the same way.
“At times…despite our best efforts, we fall short of our goals,” Goodell wrote in the memo. “We clearly did so in response to a recent incident of domestic violence. … 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.”
The new personal conduct policy on domestic violence reads as follows:
- The policy applies to all incidents of physical force, not just domestic violence.
- A player would be subject to a six-game suspension for a first offense, and that suspension could be longer according to the circumstances.
- A player would receive a lifetime ban for a second incident, although they could apply for reinstatement after one year.
- The policy applies to all NFL personnel, not just players.
- The policy is not retroactive. Everyone comes in with a clean slate.
- Counseling is available for all parties, and the NFL will seek out “at-risk” individuals to offer pre-incident counseling. The player can refuse, but his refusal could affect future discipline.
The league also made it clear that the policy only applies after a court decision, not simply by arrest. Should a player be found guilty or enter a plea agreement, the NFL would make a decision as to whether or not the person violated the new policy.
Roger Goodell also noted that although individuals will enter the NFL with a proverbial “clean slate,” if they had a previous incident in high school or college, they could be subjected to harsher first-offense penalties should they have another incident. He said he wants this to be a top-down change in behavior.
“We will expand the educational components in our college, high school and youth football programs that address domestic violence and sexual assault,” Goodell concluded.
Related source: ESPN