NFL Domestic Violence Scandal: What is the Next Step?

“We’ve seen all too much of the NFL doing wrong. That starts with me,” Commissioner Roger Goodell said in a press conference.

It seems like whenever the National Football League is in the news these days, it is something negative. Stories of arrests and domestic violence cases are taking away from the game of football. Being a huge football fan myself, it’s disappointing to see what has been happening within the league. Something needs to be done about it, and it starts with Commissioner Goodell.

“I watch these guys play every week,” junior Rachel Harrison said. “It’s scary. I cannot believe that some of them can do this.”

Commissioner Goodell came under scrutiny during the Ray Rice incident. It remains unclear when exactly the league and Goodell had received the video of the domestic violence incident between Rice and his wife. Despite these reports coming out, Commissioner Goodell and the NFL gave Rice a two-game suspension, compared to players who have been punished for less severe offenses not involving violence.

“It shows a hypocrisy in the punitive process of the NFL’s personal conduct policy,” senior Alexander Szivos said.

“Players get four-game suspensions for drug use but there are no guidelines on how to deal with domestic violence. It shows that they care more about what the players put into their bodies than what they do off the field, because the league makes money off their bodies,” Szivos said.

However, once the video came out to the public, the league decided to make a more significant move and Rice was suspended indefinitely. When unconfirmed reports came out that the league received the video right after the alleged incident happened, most of the public accused Goodell of withholding this information.

“He should be fired for sure,” Harrison said. “The only reason he did anything about it now is because the video got out. That’s just unacceptable. These players aren’t anything special. They’re still human beings and should be held accountable for their actions.”

Domestic violence continues to be a major issue in our society. This goes beyond the NFL. However, the NFL should use its high profile to bring attention to domestic violence. Goodell announced upcoming changes to the disciplinary process for players. In addition, he revealed new partnerships between the league and the National Sexual Violence Resource Center, as well as the National Domestic Violence Hotline. The hotline has since received an 84 percent increase in calls in just one week.

It is great that the league has been taking steps to make these changes. But they need to be making changes that are seen by the general public. For one, not many know about these new partnerships the league has. The league never did anything to make people aware. If they, for example, organized something during one of the games, the public would appreciate it more. Right now, they are seeing players still being accepted by the league. They need to see the league stepping up and bringing attention to this societal problem. They need to see more than just suspending the player and trying to forget about it.

“I think that it is unfair,” junior Kassandra Pujols said. “I understand that he’s a public figure, but that was a personal matter between him and his wife. If she went on with the marriage, then that should not fully reflect on him as a player and his contribution to the team.”

“If they’re not cut from the team,” junior Giaunna Gwinn said, “it might seem like that is okay to do. If they’re not punished by the law, they should be punished somehow.”

In the end, the NFL domestic violence issue has to be resolved, and soon. The league needs to create stronger conduct policies in its player disciplinary process. These recent cases of domestic violence against their players should not be taken lightly, like they have been. However, this goes much further than within the NFL. Domestic violence needs to be addressed at the societal level. It is more than just an issue involving football players. Once domestic violence is addressed as a problem of society, changes will happen everywhere.

“The NFL is totally being viewed in a poorer light right now,” Gwinn said. “You said Ray Rice and I wasn’t sure if you were talking about the player who hit his wife or the one who hit his kid. That alone should say something.”

If Commissioner Goodell and the league make significant improvements soon, hopefully in the coming weeks, then they may be able to gain some respect back from the public.