APPLETON – The NFL’s commissioner announced Thursday there will be an immediate change in policy.
In a letter to all NFL owners Roger Goodell says there will be tougher penalties against players accused of domestic violence, including six weeks for a first offense, and at least a year for a second offense.
“I think it’s a huge step,” said Beth Schnorr.
Schnorr is the executive director of Harbor House. The Appleton shelter helps women and children involved in abusive relationships.
Schnorr says the NFL’s policy change is very important.
“When we take a stand and really voice our opinions and really make an atmosphere of intolerance of this kind of issue, it makes it more difficult for individual perpetrators to continue to abuse within their own relationships,” Schnorr said.
Goodell said, “Domestic violence and sexual assault are wrong. They are illegal. They are never acceptable and have no place in the NFL under any circumstances.”
The NFL Players Association says it is still important that players be treated fairly during investigations. Its statement reads, “As we do in all disciplinary matters, if we believe that players’ due process rights are infringed upon during the course of discipline, we will assert and defend our members’ rights.”
From 2004-2013 USA Today found three players pleded guilty to domestic violence. In that 10 year span, 14 players have been required to attend counseling or domestic violence programs.
Schnorr says the NFL’s announcement is just the first step and more should be done.
“There needs to be more education of coaches to know how to respond to players even before an arrest,” Schnorr said.
The Green Bay Packers released a statement saying, “Domestic violence is a very serious matter in our society that the Packers and NFL stand firmly against. We will be reviewing with all our employees the league’s update on its policy that was communicated recently. Domestic violence awareness and prevention is an ongoing component of our orientation and training.”
Harbor House officials say they would like to see other professional organizations follow suit.
If you’re interested in reading Goodell’s full letter, click here.