WASHINGTON — Was this a wakeup call?
On Thursday, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell made an unprecedented move, announcing in a memo sent to the 32 league owners that he is mandating increased disciplinary actions for instances of domestic violence.
On its face, this is a very good thing for the league, and long overdue. But dig a little further into the letter itself and it seems that the NFL is still very much unaware as to how far behind it is on this issue.
Domestic violence and sexual assault are wrong. They are illegal. They are never acceptable and have no place in the NFL under any circumstances. Our Personal Conduct Policy has long made clear that domestic violence and sexual assault are unacceptable. We clearly must do a better job of addressing these incidents in the NFL. And we will.
There is literally one mention of domestic violence in that referenced conduct policy, lumped in with every other type of crime for which the NFL considers disciplinary action.
According to a study by the University of Central Florida from last year, women make up 45 percent of the NFL’s audience and 33 percent of its television viewers. That’s an awfully strong percentage of the market share to risk alienating by intimating that drug offenses are more serious than violence against them.
Of course, Goodell’s sudden move, a week before the start of the season, would never have happened without the video evidence of Baltimore Ravens running back Ray Rice dragging his apparently unconscious fianc