Just when it appears the NFL may get through a season with no new allegations of domestic violence, a new story breaks the news.
Domestic violence has been a large focus for the NFL the past few seasons. After a lot of poor media coverage of prior domestic violence crimes committed by players, new policies were instituted to punish domestic violence offenses in August 2014 after Ray Rice’s scandal rocked the NFL prior to the start of the 2014 season.
NFL.com detailed the new policy adopted by NFL owners stating that various types of assault and battery were punishable by a mandatory six-game suspension without pay. In a press conference announcing the policy in August 2014, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell explained that these policies were not only to be upheld by players, but also by owners, coaches, team employees, game officials, and employees of the league office, NFL Films, NFL Network or any other NFL business.
Recently, the New York Giants have been under fire after their kicker Josh Brown admitted to abusing his wife. The Giants originally suspended Brown one game after determining that his case fell under the mitigating circumstances of the new policy initiated in 2014. However, Brown was ultimately released from the team after documents were released showing that Brown had admitted to abusing his wife.
A few days after his release, “Brown was placed on the Commissioner’s exempt list, when NFL Senior Vice President, Adolpho Birch, sent a letter to Brown saying the league wanted to investigate released documents in which the kicker acknowledged physical, verbal and emotional abuse against his wife, Molly Brown,” according to ESPN.com news services.
Goodell, who had promised to hold players accountable and create new policies in 2014, told Gary Myers of the New York Daily News during the Chalk Talk show on WFAN, “We’ve learned a lot, but these are complex matters. When you talk to the domestic violence experts, these are difficult matters to deal with. You have rights; you have families that you have to be concerned with, privacy issues.”
“Yes, you want to make sure you’re doing everything possible to address these [alleged incidents] when they happen, but you also want to deal with them to prevent them from happening,” Goodell said to Gary Myers of the New York Daily News during the Chalk Talk show on WFAN.
Domestic violence and other forms of assault have not yet been eliminated from the NFL; an argument can be made that the policies implemented in 2014 have made a difference.
“I think we’ve made tremendous progress. Can we make more and will we make more? Of course,” Goodell told Gary Myers of the New York Daily News during the Chalk Talk show on WFAN.
Recently, Cowboys rookie Ezekiel Elliot has also been in the news surrounding domestic abuse allegations. Authorities in Columbus, Ohio never pressed charges against Elliot after an incident over the summer. However, the NFL’s investigation of the alleged domestic abuse continues.
According to the new NFL policy, Elliot can still be held accountable. This means that Elliot could still face a prolonged suspension from the league, CBS Sports Insider Jason La Confora noted.
It is hard to say what will happen with the Elliot case because the NFL hasn’t placed a timetable on when results can be expected. However, it can be expected that there will be a lot of scrutiny directed towards the NFL and the way they handle allegations towards players in the future.
It is clear that the NFL has made progress in combatting domestic violence since the Ray Rice fiasco in 2014; however, every case is unique which will test the policies Goodell established in 2014. As long as there are allegations of assault against their employees, the NFL will be under intense pressure to act appropriately in any given situation.