NFL Endures Domestic Violence Controversy


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In what has been called “the worst week in NFL history” by numerous journalists, three NFL players became mixed up in domestic violence rumors and accusations, tarnishing the reputation of, according to the Harris Poll, the nation’s favorite sport.

“ELEVATOR KNOCKOUT.” This was the headline that appeared on the TMZ Sports website on the morning of Sept. 8, accompanying the elevator security camera video of former Baltimore Ravens running back Ray Rice assaulting his then-fiance Janay.

The incident took place Feb. 15 at a hotel casino in Atlantic City, Md. According to ESPN, Rice was charged with felony aggravated assault. He was accepted into a “pretrial intervention program” allowing him to receive shorter jail time and possibly having the charge purged from his record. According to the New Jersey State Police, Rice “received the same treatment in the court system that any first-time offender in similar circumstances has received.”

Ray Rice was released by the Baltimore Ravens after being involved in a domestic violence case. (Photo courtesy of Keith Allison)

Ray Rice was released by the Baltimore Ravens after being involved in a domestic violence case. (Photo courtesy of Keith Allison)

As discipline for the assault, Rice was suspended for two games by the NFL, as was the league policy at the time. The domestic violence policy was changed on Aug. 28 because of the negative response the league received for the Rice suspension.

Now, according to a letter sent by NFL commissioner Roger Goodell, the punishment for the first domestic violence offense is a six game suspension without pay. If the player has a second domestic violence incident, the policy states that they will receive a lifetime ban.

After the video was released, the Ravens cut Rice from the team and the NFL suspended him indefinitely. This contradicts the policy that was in place at the time of the incident.

The Rice incident was not the only domestic violence scandal that the NFL faced during that week.

Carolina Panthers defensive end Greg Hardy was found guilty of domestic violence on July 15. According to the Charlotte Observer, Hardy was sentenced to 60 days in prison and 18 months on probation. However, since Hardy is appealing the verdict, the punishment has been suspended until after the appellate jury trial, which is set for Nov. 17, according to ESPN.

On Sept. 17, the Carolina Panthers placed Hardy on the exempt list, according to ESPN. This means that “Hardy can be around the team but can’t participate in practice,” said ESPN. Hardy’s punishment was given right after the Minnesota Vikings placed Adrian Peterson on their exempt list.

On Sept. 12, Vikings running back Adrian Peterson was indicted on a charge of “reckless or negligent injury to a child,” according to Peterson turned himself in to the Montgomery Police Department the following day after a warrant was issued for his arrest.

According to ESPN, the child abuse charge “stems from a whipping incident that left bruises and wounds on much of his four-year-old son.” Peterson used a switch, or a small stick, to discipline his son.

Peterson was released on bond for $15,000 later that day.

The incident in question took place in May. Peterson had been undergoing investigation for this event “for some time,” an anonymous source told’s Ian Rapoport. This source also told Rapoport that Peterson had “already testified in front of a grand jury.”

Peterson was placed on the Vikings’ exempt list on Sept. 17. He has a court date set for Oct. 8, according to ESPN.

Goodell had stayed pretty quiet throughout this whole week. His only previous comments on the matter of domestic violence in the NFL came in his letter to the league owners in which he announced the new domestic violence policy.

In this letter, Goodell admitted that the policy had its flaws and that he as commissioner had made mistakes. “I take responsibility both for the decision and for ensuring that our actions in the future properly reflect our values,” he wrote. “I didn’t get it right. Simply put, we have to do better. And we will.”

Goodell broke his silence in a press conference held on Sept. 19. In this press conference, according to ESPN, Goodell announced his intentions to form a committee to “review NFL personal conduct.” This committee will look at every personal conduct violation and determine the punishment for that incident.

In addition to the formation of this committee, Goodell also said that all NFL personnel would “participate in education sessions on domestic violence and sexual assault,” according to ESPN.

Although no concise solution to the NFL’s domestic violence problem was given by the commissioner, he did make one thing clear- “the same mistakes can never be repeated.”

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