Within the NFL, many of the players have been accused or arrested for domestic violence. In several instances, the only way that accusations can be verified is through eyewitness testimony or video surveillance substantiating the victim’s claims. If neither is available, many victims are left in a “he said, she said” scenario, which usually favors the NFL player, as it does with most people in positions of power.
In 2014, the Benjamin Morris of fivethirtyeight.com found that “domestic violence accounts for 48 percent of arrests for violent crimes among NFL players, compared to our estimated 21 percent nationally”, making it the crime an NFL player is most likely to be arrested for committing. Although each individual NFL player’s responsible for his own actions, and NFL players arrest rate is much lower than the national average for men in that age group, many people are still left wondering: is the NFL doing enough to prevent domestic violence?
NFL Protocol and Policies
The NFL definitely does institute preventative tactics when it comes to domestic violence. For example, they established training programs where they educated players, coaches, staff and families about domestic violence. They also claim to have a “zero tolerance” policy when it comes to domestic violence. When notified about a domestic violence incident, the NFL tries to take actions. In fact, in 2014 the NFL instituted a policy where players will be suspended for minimally six months if instances of domestic violence have been proven. Others have been given a hefty fine and the funds collected are usually disseminated to a non-profit. But is that enough? Will these mandatory punishments deter players from losing their temper and lashing out against others off the field?
NFL Punishments: Are they enough?
Some believe that these punishments may not be enough. Many of the players accused of domestic violence have been able to appeal their punishments with the NFL, especially if the complainant refuses to file charges or there is inconclusive evidence that an act has occurred. In cases where other extenuating circumstances existed, such as the presence of a gun or knife, the length of the punishment for players has not been extended.
Many players find loopholes in the current NFL domestic violence policy, claiming that they have been unfairly accused and punished for a crime that has yet to be proven within a court of law. Others have been able to mitigate their damages by immediately enrolling in a therapeutic program or hiring high-powered attorneys to represent their best interests.
The Future of the NFL and Domestic Violence
Every year, a new group of young adults enter the NFL, in hopes of making a better life. They look up to veterans and mirror their behavior. More needs to be done to educate players on ways to properly address conflict resolution. In instances where coaches and staff notice peculiar behavior, the NFL needs to encourage anger management or other therapeutic services to prevent these violent instances from occurring in the first place. Since the NFL does not have their own investigators, they should also work more with law enforcement to provide valuable information if a crime has occurred.
At the end of the day, the NFL is a business and their main goal is to make a profit; however, if they are enabling a culture where abusers can continue to abuse, then society should put more pressure on them to ensure the problem is addressed. Unfortunately, by the time these players reach the NFL it may be too late. Experts have stated that this type of training needs to start at the high school and college level. Players need to be educated better at all levels.
Ultimately, if the NFL has the ability to curb domestic violence and set a better example for future generations, they need to take responsibility and do it.
[Phil Oscarson loves the NFL and recommends Sports Book Review when it comes to sports betting websites.]