NFL commissioner Roger Goodell sent a letter to team owners outlining the league’s brand new policies regarding domestic violence and sexual assault. In addition to expanding programs to educate players and personnel and to provide confidential assistance to those at risk of violence, the NFL has increased the penalties for “assault, battery, domestic violence or sexual assault that involve physical force” to a six-game suspension without pay for a first offense and “banishment” for a second offense. That might not satisfy the governor of Maine, but it’s something.
The policy shift comes in the wake of the outrage over the slap on the wrist given to Baltimore Ravens’ Ray Rice after the running back assaulted his then-fiancee Janay Palmer. Critics of his two-game suspension contrasted it with much stiffer penalties for violations like drug offenses and dog fighting.
The six-game penalty guideline can be increased “when circumstances warrant.” Some are calling the penalty for a second offense a “lifetime ban.” But that’s slightly misleading. A banned player “may petition for reinstatement after one year,” but “there will be no presumption or assurance that the petition will be granted.”
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