NEW YORK, NY -- (Marketwired) -- Today, Nathaniel Fields, President & CEO of Urban Resource Institute, issued the following statement:
The NFL's behavior in response to recent and past domestic violence cases across the league has been appalling in its ignorance. In fact, 21 of 32 teams (at one point in 2012) were employing known batterers and sex offenders. Whether through willfully sweeping evidence under the rug or failing to acknowledge the prevalence of domestic abuse, the league has fostered a culture that tolerates abuse, disappointing fans, players and their families, and most importantly, victims of violence.
Sadly, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell's decision to suspend Ray Rice after the emergence of the horrific video of his vicious attack on Janay Palmer followed this same disturbing pattern: it was too little, too late. That the league has anything other than a zero-tolerance policy against domestic violence is outrageous, intolerable, and no longer acceptable.
Domestic violence affects one in four women around the world, yet it is among the most underreported and ignored crimes. As one of the most highly visible sports organizations in the country, the NFL is in a unique position to help people understand the complexity of domestic violence and take a vocal stand against abuse -- not just after-the-fact or in the face of overwhelming evidence, but proactively through its policies and condemnation of violence. A video, photograph, or other absolute proof certainly doesn't exist in every case of domestic violence -- nor should we set that expectation before taking action. Otherwise, we risk isolating victims and putting them at greater risk for having come forward to report abuse.
The NFL can and must do more to address the prevalence of domestic violence -- first and foremost by holding players accountable and providing services and support for victims of abuse. We hope they will make the right play in the future.
President & CEO, Urban Resource Institute
Contact: Keren Ritchie [email protected] 212.784.5713