The NFL Says “No More” Violence Against Women. Seriously?

Stacy Matson | Celebrity Health
The NFL Says “No More” Violence Against Women. Seriously?

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Violence is the last refuge of the incompetent - Isaac Asimov

This season, during Thursday Night Football, you will see two dozen current and former NFL players starring in a series of PSA’s condemning domestic violence and sexual abuse. The campaign is called "No More" - as in no more punching your girlfriend in the face; no more beating your child black and blue; no more threatening to kill your wife; no more strangling your pregnant girlfriend; no more interpreting a woman’s “no” as “definitely yes”; and no more excuses.

Virginia Witt, director of the Joyful Heart Foundation created the “No More” campaign long before the NFL got involved. However, she said that recently the League approached her about including NFL players in the PSA’s and airing them during games this season. Witt said that “airing the No More PSA during primetime football games will allow us to reach millions with an important message about ending domestic violence and sexual assault.” Hopefully, all those beer guzzling, football watching men pay attention to those PSA’s.

Call me skeptical, but after the series of horrific scandals the NFL has been dealing with this year I think these PSA’s, are just a pathetic attempt to salvage their badly tarnished image. Seriously, after decades of turning a blind to player transgressions do you really think that the NFL would have made one change if they hadn’t received such negative reactions from their sponsors?   

If Anheuser-Busch, McDonalds, Visa, Procter & Gamble, FedEx, Nike, and Campbell’s Soup didn’t threaten to stop advertising during games do you think we’d be watching these PSA’s?  I don’t. But money talks. And what about the newly created woman-run Social Responsibility Team who will “look into issues like domestic violence?”  What does that even mean? Do they sit around and say, “Yuppp. He hit her. Next case.” The idea of the “Team” seems so patronizing. But, the woman-run part is a nice touch…Progress.

Other than DUI, domestic violence is the NFL’s biggest off-field problem, with 87 arrests involving 80 players over the last 14 years. Since Goodell became commissioner in 2006, there have been 56 arrests. And this year alone, there have been 15 arrests for domestic abuse or sexual assault, and 12 of those players are still active. The problem seems to be getting worse.

But, the NFL has quite a conundrum on their hands. On the one hand, they want players who are aggressive and fiercely competitive. In fact, a player’s livelihood, reputation, and position on the team depends on how violent they are on the field. Yet, on the other hand, they expect players to be an entirely different person when they are off the field: mild-mannered, calm, easy going, pillars of the community. 

How is that possible? I mean isn’t it reasonable to assume that people who use physical intimidation and violence in their chosen career (football) would rely on those same behaviors when dealing with conflict outside of work? 

Step in the right direction? 

In November the league will implement its new Domestic Violence/Sexual Abuse Workplace Policy. Which, in addition to imposing stricter penalties for any such infraction, the League will also train team owners, players, and League employees on their new “initial-response techniques.” Meaning they can’t ignore the problem anymore.

In addition, the NFL has made a video focused on prevention, education and training for young football players which will be sent to colleges and high schools across the country. These videos will explain the impact on victims, families, and perpetrators; how to avoid becoming a perpetrator or a silent bystander; and how to intervene. I hope these videos also include anger management and coping skills.

Although most people know that it’s wrong to hit/punch your spouse/girlfriend, that you need to have explicit consent before you have sex with someone, and that you shouldn’t beat your child black and blue; these notions seem to be currently missing from the NFL’s machismo code of ethics. So, I’m curious to see what difference these new policies will make.

The path to ending domestic violence and sexual assault will be challenging to say the least. However, the NFL seems willing to address the changes that need to be made within their organization. Perhaps this is the start to “No More.”

Stacy Matson is a health enthusiast from Southern California and regularly blogs on Celebrity Health for A Healthier World, as well as contributing to the Best of Best.

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