NFL increases penalties for domestic violence
NEW YORK — Acknowledging he “didn't get it right” with a two-game suspension for Ravens running back Ray Rice, NFL commissioner Roger Goodell announced tougher penalties for players accused of domestic violence, including six weeks for a first offense and at least a year for a second.
In a letter sent to all 32 team owners Thursday, Goodell never mentions Rice by name but makes clear references to the Baltimore player who was charged with assault after being caught on video dragging his then-fiancee off a casino elevator.
“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,” Goodell wrote. “I didn't get it right. Simply put, we have to do better. And we will.”
Since January 2000, 77 players have been involved in 85 domestic violence incidents with six being cut by their teams, according to a USA Today database. The NFL suspended six players for one game each, and Rice was the second player to be suspended for two games.
Carolina Panthers defensive end Greg Hardy was convicted in July of assaulting his ex-girlfriend and has appealed for a jury trial set for November. His league punishment has not been announced. Goodell's letter doesn't state clearly how the league will handle pending cases.
Outrage over Rice's punishment prompted three members of Congress to write to the commissioner asking him to reconsider Rice's suspension. The governor of Maine threatened to boycott the league, and numerous groups that advocate for women and families condemned the penalty.
The commissioner told teams to distribute his memo to all players and to post it in locker rooms.
The memo says violations of the league's personal conduct policy “regarding assault, battery, domestic violence and sexual assault that involve physical force will be subject to enhanced discipline.”
The personal conduct policy is not subject to collective bargaining with the players' union, and the commissioner has leeway to impose punishments for such off-field violations. Goodell's statement also did not stipulate whether the commissioner would act before a player is formally charged.
“We particularly applaud your decision to impose tougher penalties, and to give serious consideration to circumstances that may warrant even harsher consequences,” said Esta Soler, chief executive of the advocacy group “Futures Without Violence,” who met last week with Goodell.
An initial domestic violence offense will draw a six-week ban without pay, although the memo says “more severe discipline will be imposed if there are aggravating circumstances such as the presence or use of a weapon, choking, repeated striking, or when the act is committed against a pregnant woman or in the presence of a child.”
A second offense will result in banishment from the league, but a player will be allowed to petition for reinstatement after a year.
“There is no assurance that the petition will be granted,” the memo says.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- NFL notebook: RG3 ‘not happy’ with benching
- NFL notebook: Vikings coach thinks Peterson will return to team once reinstated