Discipline and Domestic Violence: NFL Edition

Recently there has been a number of high profile domestic violence cases involved with players in the National Football League. The most recent case consists of star running back Kareem Hunt, who is being investigated currently for assault. A video surfaced showing Hunt pushing and kicking a women to the ground in an altercation that occurred last month in a hotel hallway.  After the evidence was released Hunt was subsequently dropped by the Kansas City Chiefs and placed under investigation by the NFL.

After the admitted mishandling of the Ray Rice case, the NFL vowed to improve their policies and the enforcement of them. The NFL’s policy on domestic violence states that: “Any player who violates the league’s personal conduct policy regarding assault, battery, domestic violence or sexual assault with physical force would be suspended six games for a first offense”. However, the NFL rarely follows this policy. For example, Josh Brown was suspended one game after being arrested in an altercation with his ex-wife. Later video evidence was found confirming Brown’s actions and he was suspended indefinitely by the league. Similarly, with the Ray Rice case, as a result of video evidence revealed later on, his suspension was extended from two games to indefinite. Additionally, quarterback Jameis Winston was issued a three game suspension for a sexual assault charge.

Furthermore, one of the more unusual cases involves 22 year old running back Joe Mixon. A video surfaced in 2017 showing Mixon punching a woman in the face, breaking multiple bones during an altercation in a restaurant in Norman, Oklahoma. The video is now four years old and Mixon was suspended a full year by The Oklahoma Sooners of the NCAA. Questions arose from this incident, including whether the NFL have the right to suspend Mixon given the incident was four years ago and in college. Moreover, to what degree should Mixon’s past actions affect him at the professional level? Should he be disciplined even though he was not under NFL contract at the time? No one knows the definitive answers to these questions.

The stigma of football players and domestic violence is not going away and the NFL and other organizations need to find a way to fix this problem by reviewing the policies and making the policies easier to abide by to ensure players are disciplined properly. Hopefully, this will deter further aggressive actions and break the stigma of violence in football.

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