The NFL knows. It knows that when it comes to the ugliness of its players beating the crap out of women, its response has been woeful. As in terrible. As in abysmal.
That might soon change. It might soon change in a huge way.
Bleacher Report was able to confirm a story from Mark Maske of The Washington Post that states the NFL is considering stronger penalties for its players involved in domestic violence cases. A first offense would receive a four- to six-game suspension. A second offense would result in a possible one-year ban.
If this goes through—and we are potentially months away from it being put into practical use—it would be a landmark move by the NFL. Two sources familiar with the situation confirmed the league is strongly considering this.
NFL spokesman Greg Aiello declined to comment on specifics but told Bleacher Report: "We are always looking to evolve and improve our policies and programs on all issues."
This is not a PR gimmick, from what I can gather. This is real, and there's a good chance this goes through. The union will have to give at least tacit approval, but I can't imagine them fighting something like this. It's a rule that's needed. It's a rule that's long been needed.
What's interesting about the NFL's proposal is that it doesn't slowly escalate the way other punishments do. It goes from a stiff first offense to basically a near-banishment.
That's significant because the league has recently been accused of tolerating the physical abuse of women. This potentially shows there is no tolerance for domestic violence. If this rule is enacted, it's smart and hearty. There's teeth there.
It is true that if this occurs, it was because the NFL was basically shamed into it by the disgraceful two-game ban of Ray Rice for knocking his then-fiancee unconscious. The NFL was correctly and roundly destroyed from almost every corner of the country, from tweet to shining tweet. The lack of serious punishment pushed this story out of the sports universe and onto morning news shows and the front pages of websites everywhere.
The NFL still deserves credit. They could have just let all of this die down and moved on. But the league circled back and will likely address what was a large gap in its disciplinary policies.
Stiffening penalties would also eliminate the ridiculousness of the gap between how a player is suspended more harshly for smoking pot than knocking a woman out. The drug policies are mandated by the collective bargaining agreement, and that apparent difference isn't the fault of the NFL, but it nonetheless makes the league look buffoonish.
What I have noticed with the majority of players is that they are terrified of lengthy suspensions. A player will risk taking PEDs to gain a competitive advantage because the potential consequence is a handful of games, while the reward is a dramatic uptick in speed and strength.
But a yearlong suspension scares the hell out of players. I believe such a rule would prevent domestic violence and could potentially save a woman's life.
Such a powerful suspension would serve as a calming agent for a player who might have, in the past, not given a damn if he hit a woman. Because in the past, if he was convicted of a domestic violence offense, he had no fear of any type of serious suspension.
Now he does.
Hopefully the NFL will follow through on this, and I believe the league will.
Because the NFL knows. It knows that when it comes to the ugliness of its players beating the crap out of women, the league's response has been woeful.
That could soon change. Thankfully.