NEW: Players union executive applauds commissioner for announcement
NEW: He says union abhors violence but represents players so they can get due process
Roger Goodell memo: 4 women tapped to help league tackle issue of domestic violence
Among the four: Ex-head of sex crimes prosecution unit, ex-directors of advocacy groups
NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell will work with four women “on the development and implementation of the league’s policies, resources and outreach on issues of domestic violence and sexual assault,” according to a memo Goodell sent to the league’s teams Monday.
The memo comes after a tumultuous week for the NFL. With Ray Rice suspended indefinitely for hitting his then-fiancee in an elevator, the league saw three more of its players come under scrutiny over domestic violence or child abuse allegations. Two of those players were deactivated for their Sunday games.
Fourteen players have been arrested for violence against women in the last two years, a Sports Illustrated article last week reported.
The women tapped to help craft league policy are:
• Anna Isaacson, the league’s vice president of community affairs and philanthropy; she will now be vice president of social responsibility;
• Lisa Friel, former head of the sex crimes prosecution unit in the New York County District Attorney’s Office;
• Jane Randel, the co-founder of NO MORE, which aims to “raise the profile of and normalize the conversation about domestic violence and sexual assault”;
• Rita Smith, the former executive director of the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence.
“We are continuing to develop our organization to strengthen our ability to address the wide range of issues we face and other changes in our office will be announced soon,” Goodell wrote in his memo. “Our goal is to make a real difference on these and other issues. We know that we will be judged by our actions and their effectiveness.”
The assistant executive director of external affairs for the players’ union commended the commissioner.
“Anything that we can do as an NFL community that will be effective to raising awareness on this serious issue is a good thing,” said George Atallah of the NFL Players Association.
Rice is expected to appeal his indefinite suspension before Tuesday night’s deadline but Atallah said that is not a sign that the union condones domestic violence.
“It’s not mutually exclusive for a union to be disturbed by the actions of one of our members, but also vehemently protect our collective bargaining rights,” he said. “If the union believes that Ray Rice’s due process rights were violated, then we have an obligation to appeal his indefinite suspension.”
The president of the NFL Players Association, Eric Winston, told CNN’s “Erin Burnett OutFront” it might be wise to bring in outside help for the league to make disciplinary decisions.
“Obviously, there’s an issue with player conduct … and maybe it’s time to take that out of the commissioner’s hands and put it into a neutral arbitration process, where there can be a fair process for everybody involved,” said Winston, a free agent who played last season with the Arizona Cardinals.
Two other players were kept off the field Sunday for their alleged behavior.
Adrian Peterson was deactivated after an East Texas grand jury indicted him on a child abuse charge. Peterson’s lawyer has said his client is innocent, and the Minnesota Vikings’ owners announced that Peterson will return to practice this week and is scheduled to play Sunday.
The Carolina Panthers’ Greg Hardy was scheduled to play Sunday but was deactivated shortly before game time following an outcry over his domestic violence case. Authorities say Hardy choked his then-girlfriend, threw her around, dragged her by her hair and threatened to kill her.
He was sentenced in July to 18 months of probation and a 60-day suspended sentence after a bench trial; he has appealed that ruling and a jury trial is scheduled for November.
Ray McDonald was allowed to play in the San Francisco 49ers’ Sunday night game against the Chicago Bears, but California Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom has asked the team to suspend McDonald after his arrest on domestic violence charges last month.
Police were called to a birthday party at McDonald’s home on August 31 and determined McDonald had been involved in an altercation with his fiancee, who was 10 weeks pregnant, The Sacramento Bee reported.
At a press conference Monday, Carolina Panthers head coach Ron Rivera said the discussions on Hardy have been internal and that there have been no outside consultants.
Rivera would not say whether Hardy would be on the active roster Sunday night against the Pittsburgh Steelers. Hardy played in week one against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers but was deactivated for Sunday’s game against the Detroit Lions.
“The decision made yesterday was made based on the information that was gathered, things that we looked at and talked about and then it was made in the best interests of this football team,” Rivera said.
Rivera referenced “some of the things that changed in the climate” as to why Hardy did not play Sunday.
“We’re going to have to look at things and look at what’s going on,” Rivera said. “We’re going to have to get a feel for some things. And as I said, (general manager Dave Gettleman) and the guys upstairs are going to do their due diligence in terms of looking at what our options are.”