THE BLOG
10/06/2014 09:31 am ET Updated Dec 06, 2014

NFL Teams Need to Lead Against Domestic Violence

As we start Domestic Violence Month, now is a good time for any one of the NFL teams to step up its game against domestic violence. There is no need for the 32 NFL teams to wait for NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell and his self-imposed deadline of the Super Bowl to start to take action against domestic violence. Just this week, Seattle Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson launched Pass the Peace, a campaign to bring awareness and funds to combatting domestic violence. It is still my hope that one of these NFL teams will do something to show their commitment against domestic violence and not just appear, like the Ravens, as the new face of domestic violence.

Having prosecuted domestic violence crimes and since represented many victims and a few abusers of domestic violence, I know there is no easy fix on the issue of domestic violence in the NFL or elsewhere. But there is always an opportunity to make something good out of a bad occurrence. And taking action is necessary to educate players on domestic violence, help prevent future occurrences and show a true commitment to addressing domestic violence. Actions taken now on the part of any NFL franchise might just help prevent future domestic violence incidents by players or perhaps save someone's life.

Domestic violence is nothing new to the NFL. In 1968, football legend Jim Brown faced his first of many domestic violence charges, an assault with intent to murder, with other charges following in 1985, 1986 and 1999. And one of the most egregious domestic violence cases was former Carolina Panthers player, Rae Carruth, who was found guilty of conspiracy to commit murder on his pregnant girlfriend in 1999. A USA Today database that tracks NFL player arrests since 2000 found there were 87 domestic violence arrests among 80 players. While some may argue that these numbers seem relatively low, an analysis shows they represent 48% of the number of violent crime arrests by NFL players, according to FiveThirtyEight. And today, there are 12 active players with domestic violence arrests.

A unique opportunity exists for any one or more of the 32 NFL teams to take the lead on domestic violence programming to show that their franchise is truly committed to helping their players through mandatory counseling, training and education. Football is an aggressive and hard hitting sport--a very good quality in football. And it is not uncommon for any profession's good qualities to become bad ones when exhibited on one's off work time. And that is not simply an excuse. It is but one factor to consider when organizing any program to educate players on domestic violence and its consequences.

Many teams have community outreach programs in their communities. On the Baltimore Ravens' web site, it states: "The Baltimore Ravens have a strong commitment to making a difference in our community". Many young boys and youth mimic what they see their sports role models do on and off the field. And in just the community served by the Ravens, domestic violence accounted for 16,269 assaults in all counties of Maryland in 2012.

Football is all about winning. There are ways to win both on and off the field. And that's why I urge one of the 32 teams in the NFL to take the lead in implementing a domestic violence program for the good of the community, the team and for all those impacted by domestic violence. And then hopefully others will follow.