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NFL imposes new and more severe domestic violence policy

Women’s advocacy groups, members of congress and even Baltimore Ravens’ fans were shocked when Ravens’ running back Ray Rice was suspended by the NFL for only the first two games of the 2014 season following Rice’s Feb. 15 battering and knocking out of his then fiancée Janay Palmer. The now viral video of the incident shows Rice dragging the unconscious Palmer out of an Atlantic City, New Jersey, casino elevator. Rice and Palmer were married not too long after the incident.

Criticism and outrage came quickly and fiercely against NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell’s seemingly light penalty against Rice. Now, in the wake of that two game suspension, Goodell “announced tougher penalties for players accused of domestic violence,” according to an Aug. 29 report from The Huffington Post.

Acknowledging that he "didn't get it right" regarding the Rice penalty, the NFL’s newly announced tougher guidelines will result in a six weeks’ unpaid suspension for a player’s first domestic violence offense and at least a one year suspension for a second domestic violence offense. That second domestic violence offense could also result in a lifetime ban from the league, according to CNN. Players would be able to petition the NFL for reinstatement after the first year of their ban in the case of second offenses.

In a memo sent out to all 32 team owners on Thursday, Goodell said that the new policy would take place immediately and that owners must share the new policy with players. The commissioner wrote that the new policy should be posted in all NFL locker rooms.

A section of his memo to the owners read: "Domestic violence and sexual assault are wrong. They are illegal. They are never acceptable and have no place in the NFL under any circumstances."

Although Goodell’s letter and memo regarding the new NFL policy on domestic violence doesn’t mention Rice by name, Goodell has since admitted that he wishes his original penalty against Rice was more severe. The new policy does not change Rice’s two game suspension.

"My disciplinary decision led the public to question our sincerity, our commitment, and whether we understood the toll that domestic violence inflicts on so many families. I take responsibility both for the decision and for ensuring that our actions in the future properly reflect our values," Goodell wrote.

"I didn't get it right. Simply put, we have to do better. And we will."

Football fans and women’s advocacy groups like the House of Ruth Maryland are cheering the new NFL policy, calling the league’s new and tougher stance unprecedented, according to CBS News in Baltimore. The Baltimore Ravens have also initiated a new partnership with the House of Ruth in the creation of a new domestic awareness campaign. The Ravens are also donating $600,000 to the House of Ruth. “We are thrilled to partner with the Baltimore Ravens on such an important initiative,” said House of Ruth Maryland’s Executive Director Sandi Timmins.

“The reaction in our society has always been ‘Why doesn’t she just leave?’ The Baltimore Ravens have pledged to assist us in shifting the paradigm to change that question to: ‘Why does HE think it is ok to abuse her?’ It’s time for men to speak up, to take responsibility for their behavior, and to hold each other to having partner relationships that are healthy. It’s time to ‘Man Up!’” ~ House of Ruth Press Release

For more on the NFL’s new stricter and highly applauded domestic violence policy, see the video accompanying this article. You can read the entire letter and accompanying memo Goodell sent to the NFL owners here.

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