Signature needed: Zero tolerance for violence against women

CREDO action
NFL must have zero tolerance for violence against women

Tell the NFL:
"Implement a zero-tolerance policy with regard to violence against women. Players involved in any law enforcement investigation regarding violence against women should be benched until legal proceedings have been resolved."

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Dear 5849376,

NFL: Stop violence against women.

We had a big win in August when the NFL announced a new policy regarding violence against women. Now it's time to make sure the NFL makes good on its promises.

There's a major challenge to the NFL's new policy coming from the San Francisco 49ers. The team's starting defensive tackle Ray McDonald, the first player arrested for domestic violence after the NFL's new policy was announced, has played in the 49ers' first two games.

The NFL has only said it is "looking into" McDonald's case, and 49ers' leadership has declared that they won't punish him "until an entire police investigation shows us something."1 This first test of the league's new policy is clearly a failure.

Tell NFL Commissioner Goodell and team owners: The NFL must have zero tolerance for violence against women. Deactivate players who are being investigated by police for domestic violence assault until their cases are resolved. Click here to sign the petition.

The NFL, and the 49ers' leadership, would like people to believe that letting players arrested for domestic violence play until their cases are resolved is the only way to "respect due process." It's a convenient excuse that allows teams to get maximum advantage from players while paying lip service to a stance of zero tolerance for violence against women.

CREDO believes that any NFL player investigated for a crime deserves due process in the criminal justice system. But "due process" doesn't mean that the NFL can't sideline players until the legal process has run its course. With court proceedings often postponed until after the end of the football season, the NFL's current interpretation of its policy essentially means that players face no real consequence from the league for their actions until well after the fact. It sends a terrible message to people outside the league that violence against women isn't as important as winning on the field.

Former 49ers quarterback Steve Young spoke out last week, criticizing the 49ers for playing McDonald. He made clear that "due process" excuses for keeping players on the roster don't hold water:

Any company in this country, any big company, if that happens, they send you home. They might pay you, but you don't play. You don't come to work until we figure this out... You've got to have no tolerance about it and mean it and then say, 'Look, if something happened and… it's a fraudulent assertion, then we'll work it out in a few days or weeks and [you'll] miss a couple of games, OK?'... It just has to be that way or you're not serious about it.2

The NFL needs to prove it's serious about stopping violence against women by immediately implementing a zero tolerance policy. Click here to sign the petition.

McDonald's case is the first since the NFL's new policy was announced but it's not the only open case before the NFL. Carolina Panthers defensive end Greg Hardy was convicted in July on two counts of assault and communicating threats to his girlfriend, who was so afraid during the attack that she "accepted that [she] was going to die." The Panthers have said they want to "respect the legal process," and the NFL plans to let Hardy's appeals process play out before announcing any discipline. Like McDonald, Hardy also suited up for the Panthers' season opener, logging four tackles and a sack.3 In the face of mounting criticism, the Panthers deactivated Hardy for this weekend's game, saying the decision was "in the best interest of the team."

The NFL's problem with violence against women is systemic and deeply entrenched. The league is still failing to live up to its claim that violence against women has no place in the NFL by letting players continue to play after they've been implicated in criminal domestic violence cases.

Tell the NFL: It's time for a zero tolerance policy when it comes to violence against women. Click the link below to sign the petition:

Thanks for everything you're doing to hold the NFL accountable.

Heidi Hess, Campaign Manager
CREDO Action from Working Assets

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  1. "York: Due process for Ray McDonald," Associated Press, 9/9/2014.
  2. "Steve Young: Playing McDonald a poor call," Paul Gutierrez,, 9/8/2014.
  3. "Here Are The Two Other Domestic Violence Cases Facing NFL Players Right Now, Travis Waldron, Think Progress, 9/92014.

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