Domestic Violence in the NFL

Baltimore Ravens Training Camp August 20, 2009

Recent events surrounding Baltimore Ravens’ running back Ray Rice have put a spotlight on the issue of domestic violence. On February 15, Rice and his then fiancé Janay Palmer, now Janay Rice, were both charged with assault after an early-morning fight with each other in an Atlantic City casino’s elevator. Four days later, TMZ released a video of Rice dragging Palmer’s unconscious body out of the casino elevator. 

In the months that followed, Rice was indicted for third-degree aggravated assault and suspended by NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell for two games, a punishment that many felt was inadequate. Rice and Palmer were also married on March 28. After intense criticism from the mediapublic and even Congress, the NFL announced a more stringent policy for future domestic violence cases on August 28. First-time offenders will now receive a six-game ban, while a second offense will result in a lifetime ban from the NFL. 

Then on September 8, TMZ released surveillance footage from inside the casino elevator showing Rice punching Palmer. Within hours, the Ravens terminated Rice’s contract and Goodell announced Rice’s indefinite suspension from the NFL, with both parties claiming they had not seen the video before. Soon after, Janay Rice took to Instagram to defend her husband. She wrote, “To take something away from the man I love that he has worked his ass [off] for all his life just to gain ratings is horrific.”

A bipartisan group of sixteen female senators recently wrote in a letter, “If you violently assault a woman, you shouldn’t get a second chance to play football in the NFL.” Other members of Congress, such as Sen. Richard Blumenthal, have called for the immediate resignation of Goodell. Currently, Rice’s future in the NFL remains unclear, while Goodell is weathering a storm of criticism.

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