Lawmakers ask Roger Goodell to clarify NFL's domestic violence policy

Two Democratic lawmakers write NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell about domestic violence

Is the NFL doing enough to hold teams and their owners accountable for stamping out domestic violence from within their franchises?

That's what two members of Congress are asking NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell in a letter asking him to clarify what penalties teams could face if they do not properly address domestic violence, the Associated Press reported.

Sen. Brian Schatz (D-Hawaii) and Rep. Jackie Speier (D-Hillsborough) asked the commissioner whether teams could lose draft picks for failing to adequately deal with domestic abuse issues.

"We urge you to create accountability at all levels of the NFL, particularly among team owners, who have the most direct financial incentives to avoid long-term suspensions and quickly get players back on the field," the letter said.

This isn't the first time the two lawmakers have written Goodell. They sent him a letter last year, but in his response the commissioner did not explicitly state whether the loss of draft picks could be a potential punishment for teams.

"Please provide further clarification on whether the removal of draft picks will be used as a penalty for teams that do not appropriately address domestic violence and sexual assault," the letter said.

Schatz and Speier pointed out that teams have lost draft picks for transgressions in the past, such as when the New Orleans Saints were punished in 2011 for a bounty scandal and when the New England Patriots were penalized for illegally videotaping opponent hand signals in 2007.

"We support this potential disciplinary action as a significant indication that the NFL takes these issues very seriously and intends to hold teams responsible for allowing cultures of violence and abuse," the letter stated.

The NFL has yet to respond publicly to the letter, which comes months after it suspended former Baltimore Ravens running back Ray Rice for punching his then-fiancee in a casino elevator in February 2013. 

Rice's initial suspension of two games was widely criticized as being too lenient. The league was criticized again for only suspending Rice indefinitely once video of the incident actually showing Rice knocking out his fiancee was made public.

Rice's indefinite suspension was later overturned by an arbitrator following an appeal.

The NFL denied ever seeing the second video before its public release by TMZ, a claim that was substantiated following an independent investigation conducted by former FBI Director Robert Mueller

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