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The Pioneer

The Pioneer

Domestic violence in the NFL needs to stop

Ryan Duarte,
Contributor

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The biggest problem in football right now is not concussions. It’s domestic violence and the lack of accountability within the NFL. It is not only affecting players and teams, but also affecting people who are close to these players.

This is not only a national issue, but a problem within our California bubble, as well. 49ers linebacker Reuben Foster, who was awarded the high honor of the Pro Football Writers’ Association All-Rookie Team this season, was arrested the morning of Feb. 11 for allegedly dragging his girlfriend by her hair, threatening her and possessing two assault rifles in his home.

If charged, Foster could face up to four years in prison, according to NFL.com. However, that’s not including the charges filed for possession of assault weapons.

Four years for allegedly dragging his long-time girlfriend and threatening to kill her with an assault rifle. If these allegations are true, then four years is not enough punishment for someone that threatened to kill his wife.

Within the NFL, punishments are almost non-existent. The league has been soft with domestic violence issues.

Former Cowboys defensive end Greg Hardy was initially suspended for 10 games for abusing his then ex-girlfriend, Nicole Holder. Charges were dropped when Holder would not cooperate with authorities during the investigation in North Carolina, according to NFL.com.

The league conducted its own investigation by placing Hardy on the exempt list within the league, on Sept. 17, 2014, which meant he would still get paid but could not participate in team-related activities. The NFL concluded on April 22, 2015 there was enough evidence Hardy violated NFL rules and suspended him for 10 games. The suspension was later lowered to four games.

“I find that the conduct of Hardy clearly violates the letter and spirit of any version of the [personal conduct policy] since its inception, and of the NFL Constitution and Bylaws long before then. The egregious conduct exhibited here is indefensible in the NFL,” said NFL arbitrator Harold Henderson after appealing Hardy’s suspension, who enforces the NFL’s rules and can rule a suspension anyway he sees fit. “However, 10 games is simply too much, in my view, of an increase over prior cases without notice such as was done last year, when the ‘baseline’ for discipline in domestic violence or sexual assault cases was announced as a six-game suspension.”

This is where the NFL lost me.

Firstly, why is the “baseline for discipline” a mere six-game suspension? Again, we have to look at our judicial system to find the answer, where threatening your girlfriend and putting your hands on her can only get you four years in prison at most.

Secondly, due process still exists. You are always innocent until proven guilty within a court of law. But if you are found guilty of pushing, beating or choking your significant other, then you should not be allowed to continue your job anymore.

Running back Ray Rice was merely suspended two games for aggravated assault charges. He did not face jail time, but a video released by TMZ showed the incident. Rice dragged his wife, Janay Rice, out of an elevator by her shoulders while she was unconscious.

Goodell saw the video, and still only gave Rice a two-game suspension. He later admitted to not handling the situation correctly which caused him to revamp the domestic violence policy that later gave Hardy a four-game suspension.

However, this new policy is still not good enough. If people want change, then the policy needs to be as strict as possible while still giving players the chance to have due process.

The league should suspend players from team activities, without pay, while the investigation is ongoing. Players need to be held accountable by a zero-tolerance policy to domestic violence. If you are found guilty of committing such a terrible crime, then you do not deserve to be in the National Football League.

Or maybe players need to pay more attention to the NFL’s symposium for rookies. These rookies hear presenters who have made mistakes during and even after their careers during a four day field trip. They also learn what it’s like to be in the NFL off the field, and what to do in order to stay out of trouble.

But at some point players just need to be better. And we as a society need to be better too.

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Domestic violence in the NFL needs to stop