More than 47,500 people have signed a petition asking NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell to implement harsher punishment for players who are perpetrators of domestic violence.
The petition on change.org, was started by Gretchen Tome of Baltimore after Ravens running back Ray Rice was given a two-game suspension stemming from an alleged physical altercation with his then-fiancée in an Atlantic City, N.J., casino elevator.
“When a player violates the league’s drug policy it is mandatory for him to be suspended for at least four games and you have issued entire season bans against players who are found to be using drugs,” the petition to Goodell states. “Yet no such mandatory punishment guidelines exist for players who commit acts of violence against female partners and acquaintances.”
Goodell defended Rice’s suspension Friday, speaking a day before the Pro Football Hall of Fame induction ceremony in Canton, Ohio.
“We've dealt with it in a serious manner, and we're very confident that this young man understands where he is and what he needs to do going forward,” Goodell said. “I think what's important here is Ray has taken responsibility for this. He's been accountable for his actions. He recognizes he made a horrible mistake that is unacceptable by his standards, by our standards. And he's got to work to reestablish himself.”
Goodell said the fact Rice had no prior history of assault was key to the length of the punishment.
Tome said, on the petition, that reasoning was unacceptable.
“One thing the NFL must do is establish consistent, mandatory disciplinary procedures for violations of the league’s ‘personal conduct policy’ similar to the mandatory minimum 4 game suspension players face if they violate the substance abuse policy,” the petition states.
NFL officials told the Los Angeles Times players are held accountable for their actions.
"Domestic violence is abhorrent and completely unacceptable in the NFL," Greg Aiello, NFL spokesman said in an email. "Anyone in our league who engages in that type of conduct is held accountable."
Goodell’s decision is not the only controversy surrounding the incident.
Popular ESPN analyst Stephen A. Smith was suspended from air for a week after he made statements on his show that seemed to insinuate that some women are responsible for provoking domestic violence.
Smith has since apologized numerous times online and on air, and said he strongly believes a man should never put his hands on a woman to hurt her.
Staff writer Chuck Schilken contributed to this report.
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