We want to commend the NFL and Commissioner Roger Goodell for responding to the outrage following the Ray Rice’s two-game suspension, which as Goodell has now admitted himself, was a mistake. The new policy isn’t perfect, but it is a step in the right direction.
Some of the things this policy does well are:
- Increasing punishment for offenders, up to banishment from the NFL which applies to all NFL staff members, not just players
- Adding an awareness and education component for victims, players, trainers and family members. It also includes provisions to reach out to college and high school football programs.
- Making it clear that violence against women and girls will not be tolerated in the NFL.
Some areas that we believe could be improved are:
- Recognizing that all abuse is not physical. The language in the policy states that,
“Effective immediately, violations of the Personal Conduct Policy regarding assault, battery, domestic violence or sexual assault that involve physical force will be subject to a suspension without pay of six games for a first offense,”
However, domestic violence is about the abuser gaining and maintaining control over his victim, not about physical force, and can be physical, emotional, sexual, or financial.
- Refining the language to reflect what abusers actually do to their victims so abuse is not minimized. For example, choking is what happens when you don’t chew a piece of food completely. Strangling is when someone places his hands around your neck constricting your airways.
- Using non-payment of suspended players’ salaries to establish a fund that offers support services for victims, prevention programs or a combination.