New NFL Domestic Violence Policy Is It Enough?


September 4, 2014; Seattle, WA, USA; NFL commissioner Roger Goodell walks the sidelines before the game between the Seattle Seahawks and the Green Bay Packers at CenturyLink Field. Mandatory Credit: Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

Roger Goodell sent out a letter to all NFL owners last Thursday outlining the changes he’s made to the Personal Conduct Policy pertaining to Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault cases. It comes as a welcome addition to the policy concerning players’ behavior off the field. The new policy stems from the mishandling of the Ray Rice  incident earlier this spring. In his letter, Goodell admits he mishandled that case, and acknowledges that public outcry over his handling of the case led the way to the new policy. The new policy, in a nutshell, is that first time offenders will receive a six game suspension without pay. A subsequent offense will be banishment from the NFL. While this looks great on paper, I still wonder if it went far enough and I’ll tell you why.

Goodell addresses first time offenses in a an excerpt of his letter.

“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 six game suspension without pay for a first offense, with consideration given to mitigating factors, as well as a longer suspension when circumstances warrant it.”

It sounds great to me except for the consideration to mitigating circumstances. Look folks we are talking about grown men weighing upwards of 300 lbs, and standing around 6 ft tall. There are NO mitigating factors involved here. If you are a professional football player and assault a woman, whether that woman is your wife, girlfriend or a “one night stand”, you should be suspended! Remove the mitigating circumstances reference in your policy Mr. Goodell.

Concerning subsequent offenses, Mr Goodell says:

“A second offense will result in banishment  from the NFL; while an individual may petition for reinstatement after one year, there will be no presumption or assurance that the petition will be granted.”

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Again this sounds great, it bans a player from the NFL for at least a year without a guarantee of a reinstatement. However, I don’t see any reason to give these guys any chance of rejoining the NFL.  Rookies are instructed through the Rookie Symposium and the Rookie Success Program about the consequences they can expect from violations of the Personal Conduct Policy. Veterans and other NFL personnel have access to the NFL Life Line Program as well as the NFL Total Wellness Program, both programs offer professional counseling to NFL players and other personnel. There is ample help for players to work out their problems anonymously, before they resort to violence.  Allowing them to enter counseling after the fact and reinstating them only degrades the effectiveness of the professional care that they are already offered.

The NFL Players Association had this to say in response to Mr. Goodell’s new policy: ”

We were informed today of the NFL’s decision to increase penalties on domestic violence offenders under the Personal Conduct Policy for all NFL employees. As we do in all disciplinary matters, if we believe that players’ due process are infringed upon during the course of discipline, we will assert and defend our players’ rights.”

Personally I was appalled at the Player’s Association’s response. First, due process is a right a player possesses in the courts. Every one who works for the NFL signs the Personal Conduct Policy, and they sit through symposiums explaining each and every detail that is contained within it! They are offered professional counseling throughout their tenure in the league, and can do it confidentially, allowing them to seek help without repercussion. The players’ association must come to realize that their players have the “privilege” to play in this league, not the “right”. If they violate the Conduct policy they should be held to that violation by the league. The courts will provide “due process” in the legal system. The players association needs to accept these new policies with enthusiasm, not the overtone that they will stand up for their players’ “rights”.

In my opinion, if an employee of the NFL leaves the facility and goes home and beats his wife/girlfriend, he should be banned from the NFL for life. There are no excuses for any man, especially as large as these guys are to commit violence on a female.  There are no mitigating circumstances! Violence is violence and I don’t condone it, and I don’t think the NFL should either. Mr. Goodell has taken a stance, and I applaud him for his effort. I don’t believe his policy has gone far enough however, the NFL needs to adopt a “zero tolerance” policy towards offenders. What do you think of the new policies? Has the NFL done enough? Let’s discuss this one! I want to know what you think!!