The NFL has been in the domestic violence spotlight for the past few weeks. Five players
have been accused of, charged with, or convicted of domestic violence or child abuse since the
conclusion of the 2013-2014 season. Of those five players, one has been suspended indefinitely
by NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell, three have agreed to be place on suspension with pay,
and one remains active and plays regularly with his team. Media, fans, league sponsors and other
sources criticize the commissioner and the organization for the handling of these incidents.
The NFL organization and Commissioner Roger Goodell have been receiving considerable
backlash from all sides in the past few weeks. The White House was just one of many sources
who commented on the issues of domestic violence that are troubling the NFL.
“Stopping domestic violence is something that’s bigger than football—and all of us have a
responsibility to put a stop to it,” said White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest, in a statement
issued after the NFL placed an indefinite suspension on Ray Rice, former running back for the
Minnesota Vikings. Another senior administration official said via CBS News that “the most
recent revelations of abuse by the NFL players are really deeply troubling.”
Major NFL sponsor Anheuser-Busch issued a statement last week, saying they “are not yet
satisfied with the league’s handling of behaviors that so clearly go against our own company
culture and moral code.”
The NFL quickly responded in a Twitter message that they were “taking action,” and
promptly placed Minnesota Vikings Adrian Peterson, Carolina Panthers defensive end Greg
Hardy and Arizona Cardinals running back Jonathan Dwyer on the NFL’s Exempt List until their
respective cases are resolved. NFL.com released a statement that defined the list:
“The Exempt List is a special player status available to clubs only in unusual circumstances.
The List includes those players who have been declared by the Commissioner to be temporarily
exempt from counting within the Active List limit. Only the Commissioner has the authority to
place a player on the Exempt List; clubs have no such authority, and no exemption, regardless of
circumstances, is automatic. The Commissioner also has the authority to determine in advance
whether a player’s time on the Exempt List will be finite or will continue until the Commissioner
deems the exemption should be lifted and the player returned to the Active List.”
This move was not enough, however, to stop Proctor and Gamble, a major sponsor of the
NFL’s Breast Cancer Awareness initiative, from breaking ties with the NFL. Other major
sponsors have issued statements of concern as well.
The national issue of domestic violence involving football players hit a little closer to home
on Sept. 22, when University of Tennessee freshman running back Treyvon Paulk was dismissed
from the team after allegedly punching his ex-girlfriend in the mouth. The woman had cuts
on her lips but has not pressed charges. Paulk was dismissed for violating the Vols’ personal
conduct policy, according to head coach Butch Jones.
MC football players Doug Cook and Charlie Pratt were asked their views on how the issue
should be handled if a Scots player were to be accused of or arrested for domestic violence.
Cook feels that “benching a player is not going to help nor hinder that player’s everyday
behavior; however, if the player brings that negative attitude and behavior into the program then
that player should be released.”
Pratt said, “I would want the best for my teammate, but for them to be disciplined as soon as
they are proven guilty—not when they are charged.”
To help support the players, coaches, and organizations, the NFL and Goodell say that the
player conduct policy is being revised, and a committee of 4 women has been assembled to help
develop a new domestic violence policy that will help hold accountable all players accused of