NFL toughens domestic violence policy with six-game bans
By, Steve Almasy and Rachel Nichols (CNN)
In the wake of criticism over a two-game suspension for Baltimore Ravens running back Ray Rice, the NFL has established a six-game unpaid ban for personnel who violate the league’s policy on domestic violence, Commissioner Roger Goodell said Thursday.
A second incident would be punished by a lifetime ban from the league, Goodell said in a letter and memo to the owners of the league’s 32 teams.
Without referring to Rice by name, he acknowledged in his letter that he made the wrong decision in that case.
“I didn’t get it right. Simply put, we have to do better. And we will,” he wrote.
The policy, which is effective immediately, also applies to other types of violence.
“Violations of the Personal Conduct Policy regarding assault, battery, domestic violence or sexual assault that involve physical force will be subject to a suspension without pay of six games for a first offense, with consideration given to mitigating factors, as well as a longer suspension when circumstances warrant.”
Goodell said the circumstances that would warrant a longer suspension include incidents that predate a person’s time with an NFL team or acts that involve choking, repeated blows or a weapon. They also include violence against a pregnant woman or in view of child.
Lifetime bans may be appealed after a year.
The players union issued a response.
“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 rights are infringed upon during the course of discipline, we will assert and defend our members’ rights,” the NFL Players Association said in its statement.
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