Sixteen female Senators–14 Democrats and two Republicans–wrote NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell on Thursday demanding a “zero-tolerance” policy for domestic abuse days after TMZ released the shocking footage of Ray Rice sucker punching his then-fiancee Janay Palmer in an elevator.
Rice was cut by the Ravens and suspended indefinitely by the NFL, which had initially suspended him for two games. NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell admitted that the initial two-game suspension was a mistake, and he instituted new rules that call for a six-game suspension for the first domestic violence offense and a lifetime ban for the second. But the Senators believe the punishment needs to go further.
“As we mark the 20th anniversary of the Violence Against Women Act, we call on the NFL to institute a real zero-tolerance policy for domestic violence that will ensure that this type of violence and abuse has no place in the NFL,” the Senators wrote NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell, who is under fire for how he has handled the situation. “We were shocked and disgusted by the images we saw this week of one of your players violently assaulting his now-wife and knocking her unconscious, and at new reports that the NFL may have received this video months ago. Tragically, this is not the only case of an NFL player allegedly assaulting a woman even within the last year.”
The Senators wrote that players should not get a second chance to play in the league if they “violently assault a woman” and said that the “NFL’s current policy sends a terrible message to players, fans and all Americans that even after committing a horrific act of violence, you can quickly be back on the field.”
“It is long past time for the NFL to institute a real zero-tolerance policy and send a strong message that the league will not tolerate violence against women by its players, who are role models for children across America,” they wrote. “We hope the NFL will seize this opportunity to lead by example and demonstrate its commitment to the safety of women and families.”
The 16 Senators who signed the letter include: Barbara Boxer (D-CA), Debbie Stabenow (D-MI), Kelly Ayotte (R-NH), Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), Patty Murray (D-WA), Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), Barbara Mikulski (D-MD), Susan Collins (R-ME), Heidi Heitkamp (D-ND), Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), Mazie Hirono (D-HI), Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), Tammy Baldwin (D-WI), Kay Hagan (D-NC) and Maria Cantwell (D-WA).