After Ravens running back Ray Rice was suspended just two games following an ugly domestic incident, the NFL was accused of being tone deaf. A two-game ban for a violent occurrence, juxtaposed with Browns receiver Josh Gordon facing a one-year suspension for using recreational drugs, seemed exceedingly light. In response, Mark Maske of the Washington Post reported yesterday that league officials were mulling harsher penalties for domestic abuse episodes, and, per Jane McManus of ESPN.com, they’ve decided to make some changes.
A source tells McManus that the NFL will seek the input of outside groups with expertise on the issue of domestic violence, and unveil a revamped program dedicated to the issue, which will focus on “everything from education, training, assistance and enhanced discipline.” The plan is expected to be officially announced soon, perhaps by next month. There’s no word yet as to how stiff the new penalties might be, but I’d expect them to be in line with the disciplinary action taken after a player is arrested for other offenses.
As McManus writes, while the league does have a human resource program for rookies that focuses on domestic abuse, there is no policy regarding such violence in the current collective bargaining agreement. Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk wrote yesterday that making changes to the CBA might present a challenge, as the players would want something in return for altering the league’s bylaws. It’s a valid point, but I doubt the union would risk the backlash of appearing to oppose policies against those who abuse women.