With the power and popularity of football as its leverage, the NFL must take a leadership role and set the standard by having what would be considered the strongest enforcement policy on abuse, anywhere.
The so-called "presumption of innocence" isn't what's in play here. An arrest is in play here. A horrific accusation is in play here. The NFL's standard of conduct and behavior is in play here.
The history of domestic violence in the U.S. runs as deep as the Mississippi River, starting with the mistreatment of women which led to the Women's Rights Movement. Now Rice will pay a hefty price for his actions while the entire world is watching.
This week, the country had a national teach-in about domestic violence courtesy of a grainy elevator video showing Baltimore Ravens running back Ray Rice knocking out his then-fiancée Janay Palmer. The dark, disturbing images sparked the soul-searching coast-to-coast conversation this issue deserves. In the two days after the video's release, calls to the National Domestic Abuse Hotline shot up 84 percent. And while some shamefully implied that victims who stay in abusive relationships are somehow culpable for their abuse, the hashtag #WhyIStayed, begun by Beverly Gooden, provided a harrowing array of deeply poignant answers. Though questions remain about what NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell knew and when he knew it, it's clear this issue goes far beyond the NFL. Ray Rice is just the tip of the iceberg -- beneath it lies a culture and legal system that perpetuates this kind of violence in millions of cases that we never see.
It's time for all of us all to act, and to demand much more from those in positions of leadership in the NFL. I also hope that President Obama and Members of Congress voice their views, not to score political blood-score points, but as human beings who are fathers and mothers, who want America to be a place where their daughters don't live in fear.
As a domestic violence and sexual assault prosecutor in the 1990s, I served in the immediate aftermath of the Violence Against Women Act, and California's Nicole Brown laws allowing previous uncharged acts of family violence or sexual assault as evidence in court, so I saw the VAWA effect up close.
We should not give this kind of assault a special name and put it in a special category that ultimately belittles it, fails to protect society, and robs victims of justice. By calling it "domestic assault," as we have for so long, we put a white picket fence around it and in some weird way prettify it. Which is utterly inexcusable.
Violence, on and off the field...
What is the company culture around Roger Goodell's NFL? It's profiting out of glamorizing lawbreakers.
I first met Jackson Michael in Austin Texas. He pitched us a book about interviewing old-time NFL players. Men who played the game before there was money. Men who made the NFL a multibillion-dollar franchise.
The NFL's history of handling and dealing with domestic violence, and more specifically women, is shameful.
It's going to be difficult for the Chicago Bears to vanquish the San Francisco 49ers on opening night at brand new Levi's Stadium in Santa Clara.
The commissioner then went on TV and fielded softball questions about the entire matter and all was well. Then came all the other revelations about the travels of the full video, and the reports on what Rice had told the commissioner back in June. What to do now? 'Fess up. Throw yourself before the mercy of the court of public opinion.
The video that TMZ leaked of Baltimore Ravens star Ray Rice punching his then-fiancée in a casino elevator couldn't have come at a more fortuitous moment. The most promising aspect of this sad saga is that the presence of the video has contributed to a transformation already underway in the public's understanding of gender-based violence.
The rich owners of the NFL teams and the NFL itself can do more than make statements. Firing Ray Rice is fine but the violent incident against his wife is only the tip of the iceberg of what is happening to women across the spectrum, without regard to race or economic status.
There's a lot of chatter online as women share their stories of abuse. Some people in the conversation who are critical of Janay for staying in her marriage with her abuser claim that we are victim-blaming her and not being supportive or understanding of another couple's marriage.