NFL Domestic Violence Initiative: Leading the Pack?

Football playerLast week the he NFL immediately implemented a sweeping domestic violence initiative under its personal conduct policy that calls for a six-game suspension for a first offense and a lifetime ban from the league for a second offense. It applies to all NFL employees (not just players).

The policy comes after the NFL commissioner received widespread criticism for only giving a player a two-game suspension after he was captured on video punching his then-fiancée and dragging her out of an elevator at a casino.  The two-game suspension was perceived as too soft compared to the suspensions given for most other infractions, such as substance abuse, steroid use or DUI offenses.

While the policy has been met with widespread praise, some of the noted “weaknesses” are that a second-time offender may petition for reinstatement after one year (but there is no assurance the petition would be granted). Also, the discipline would only be triggered by adjudication of a player’s case, such as a conviction or plea agreement. The policy is not retroactive either, meaning all personnel have a clean slate.

Domestic violence advocates are hopeful that, while the NFL’s initiative may have been long-overdue, it may pave the way for other professional and trade organizations to implement similar policies where the law otherwise might far short in penalizing offenders.


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