WASHINGTON (CBSNewYork/AP) — Sixteen female senators from both parties are calling on the NFL to adopt a zero-tolerance policy on domestic violence.
The senators said they are “shocked and disgusted” by the video showing former Baltimore Ravens running back Ray Rice punching his then-fiancee and knocking her unconscious.
The following are excerpts from a letter they wrote to NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell on Thursday:
“Tragically, this is not the only case of an NFL player allegedly assaulting a woman even within the last year,” the Senators wrote. “We are deeply concerned that the NFL’s new policy, announced last month, would allow a player to commit a violent act and return after a short suspension. If you violently assault a woman, you shouldn’t get a second chance to play football in the NFL.”
“The NFL’s current policy sends a terrible message to players, fans and all Americans that even after committing a horrific act of violence, you can quickly be back on the field,” the letter adds.
“It is long past time for the NFL to institute a real zero-tolerance policy and send a strong message that the league will not tolerate violence against women by its players, who are role models for children across America. We hope the NFL will seize this opportunity to lead by example and demonstrate its commitment to the safety of women and families,” the letter adds.
Democratic Sen. Barbara Boxer of California put the letter together. It’s signed by Boxer and the following 13 other Democrats and two Republicans:
Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.), Kelly Ayotte (R-N.H.), Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.), Patty Murray (D-Wash.), Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.), Barbara Mikulski (D-Md.), Susan Collins (R-Maine), Heidi Heitkamp (D-N.D.), Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), Mazie Hirono (D-Hawaii), Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), Tammy Baldwin (D-Wis.), Kay Hagan (D-N.C.) and Maria Cantwell (D-Wash.).
Four other female senators — two Democrats and two Republicans — did not sign the letter, which Boxer’s office said was put together quickly after the Rice video was released earlier this week.
Goodell, who initially suspended Rice for two games for the February incident, said last month that he “didn’t get it right” with Rice. The league set up new penalties for domestic violence: a six-game suspension for a first offense, at least a year for a second.
The Ravens released Rice on Monday and the NFL suspended him indefinitely after the website TMZ released video of the incident, which occurred in an elevator at an Atlantic City casino. The video shows Rice punching fiancee Janay Palmer — who is now his wife — and knocking her unconscious. The video is significantly more graphic than an initial video released by TMZ in July that showed Rice dragging Palmer from the elevator.
Goodell has insisted the league didn’t see the violent images until this week. After The Associated Press reported that a law enforcement official said he had sent a video of Rice punching Palmer to NFL executive five months ago, Sen. Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn., said news reports suggested a “burgeoning, insurmountable credibility gap” regarding statements by Goodell.
“If these reports are true, Commissioner Goodell must go, for the good of the NFL and its fans,” Blumenthal said late Wednesday. “The current leadership of the NFL cannot be trusted to fairly, genuinely implement policies that address domestic violence.”
Earlier, 12 Democrats on the House Judiciary Committee sent Goodell a letter calling for greater transparency from the NFL. Separately, Republican Sen. Dean Heller of Nevada said Goodell had not acted swiftly enough to punish Rice.
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