Updates from Thursday, Aug. 28
Jane McManus of ESPNNewYork.com passed along new suspension guidelines for domestic violence incidents:
The NFL announced sweeping new measures on domestic violence in a letter to owners today; Six games for 1st offense, lifetime ban for 2nd.— Jane McManus (@janesports) August 28, 2014
Albert Breer of NFL.com shared comments from Roger Goodell:
Goodell to owners on Rice: "My disciplinary decision led the public to question our sincerity, our commitment ...— Albert Breer (@AlbertBreer) August 28, 2014
(Goodell cont): "... , and whether we understood the toll that domestic violence inflicts on so many families. I take responsibility ..."— Albert Breer (@AlbertBreer) August 28, 2014
(Goodell cont): "both for the decision and for ensuring that our actions in the future properly reflect our values. I didn’t get it right."— Albert Breer (@AlbertBreer) August 28, 2014
Updates from Friday, Aug. 15
ESPNNewYork.com's Jane McManus has an update on the NFL's plan to potentially invoke harsher sentences:
The NFL is planning to toughen standards in cases of domestic violence soon, according to a source with knowledge of the process, and is making it a priority by soliciting advice from experts in the field about a wholesale overhaul of its policy and practices.
The source confirmed that changes are imminent and expanded on that by saying the NFL is consulting with outside groups to revamp its approach on everything from education, training, assistance and enhanced discipline, which likely would be formally included in the personal conduct policy.
Updates from Thursday, Aug. 14
Jane McManus of ESPNNewYork.com reported on the NFL's stance toward potentially tougher penalties for domestic violence incidents:
NFLPA source tells me NFL hasn't yet reached out to discuss tougher domestic violence penalties.— Jane McManus (@janesports) August 14, 2014
In the wake of the controversy generated by Baltimore Ravens running back Ray Rice's two-game suspension for domestic violence, the National Football League is reportedly mulling over the idea of tougher penalties for future domestic violence offenses.
Mark Maske of The Washington Post reported on this development Wednesday, quoting one source with knowledge of the situation on the league's thought process at this time:
We need to have stricter penalties. I think you will see that. I believe the commissioner and others would like to see stricter penalties. We need to be more vigilant. [...]
A lot of us were disturbed by what we saw [in the Rice case]. I think you will see something in probably the next few weeks. A first offense could be four to six games, definitely more than two. A second offense might be a year.
ProFootballTalk.com's Darin Gantt weighed in on the idea:
If the suggested toughening of the policy actually happens, it will be interesting to see if Panthers defensive end Greg Hardy is grandfathered into the old precedent or the new one. He’s been found guilty of assault and communicating threats for an incident involving a former girlfriend. He has appealed his conviction, and his jury trial is scheduled for Nov. 17.
Many have compared the penalties for substance abuse to Rice's conduct, noting that Rice received less of a suspension than those suspended after testing positive for banned substances.
For example, Dallas Cowboys cornerback Orlando Scandrick has been suspended for four games after testing positive for the recreational drug MDMA, or "Molly." ESPN's Ashoka Moore cited that specific instance of perceived disparity, as did ESPNNewYork.com's Jane McManus:
NFL Suspensions: 4 games for Molly (Scandrick) 2 games for Domestic Violence (Rice)— Ashoka Moore (@AshokaESPN) August 12, 2014
Ingesting an alleged Mexican PED/stimulant > Domestic violence, in NFL's suspension scheme.— Jane McManus (@janesports) August 12, 2014
Andrew Brandt of Sports Illustrated weighed in and attempted to state the other side of that argument:
For those comparing Ray Rice suspension to drug/steroid bans, different process. One from Goodell, other from NFL/NFLPA agreement.— Andrew Brandt (@adbrandt) August 12, 2014
There are similar arguments to be made for other cases, including the possible lengthy suspension Cleveland Browns receiver Josh Gordon faces for a positive marijuana test.
Based on how strong the reaction has been to Rice's situation, it seems the league wants to consider a change to the policy to make punishment more severe.
Whether those who are displeased with Rice's punishment believe the reported, proposed policy is a drastic enough action remains to be seen.
The fact that this issue is in serious dialogue among the NFL's chief authority is a positive sign overall. Until commissioner Roger Goodell puts the reported plan—or a slightly modified version of it—into action, though, those put off by the league's current stance on domestic violence are likely to continue their heavy criticism.