The NFL is establishing partnerships with groups that work to prevent domestic abuse and will have its players, coaches and executives undergo an educational program about domestic violence, according to a memo sent from Commissioner Roger Goodell to teams.
“These are by no means final steps,” Goodell wrote in the memo, which was sent to NFL teams Thursday. “We will continue to work with experts to expand and develop long-term programs that raise awareness, educate, and prevent domestic violence and sexual assault both within the NFL and in our society in general.”
The moves come after Goodell and the league received widespread criticism for their handling of cases involving players Ray Rice, Adrian Peterson and Greg Hardy.
The NFL will partner with the National Domestic Violence Hotline and the National Sexual Violence Resource Center, according to the memo.
“It was brought to our attention that recent events caused The National Domestic Violence Hotline to receive 84 percent more calls during the week of September 8-15,” Goodell wrote. “According to the organization, more than 50 percent of those calls went unanswered due to lack of staff. That must not continue.”
The memo also said: “These commitments will enable both The Hotline and NSVRC to help more people affected by domestic violence and sexual assault.”
Goodell also wrote that all league and team personnel will participate in educational sessions on domestic violence and sexual assault starting within a month.
The NFL previously added advisers on domestic violence issues. The league appointed Robert S. Mueller III, the former director of the FBI, to investigate its handling of the Rice case.
Rice was suspended indefinitely by the NFL and released by the Baltimore Ravens last week. That happened on the same day that TMZ released video showing Rice striking Janay Palmer, then his fiancée and now his wife, in an Atlantic City hotel elevator in February. The league initially had suspended Rice for two games.
Peterson, the Minnesota Vikings’ standout running back, and Hardy, a defensive end for the Carolina Panthers, agreed this week to be placed on the exempt-commissioner’s permission list. Peterson was indicted last week in Texas on charges related to him disciplining his 4-year-old son by hitting the child with a switch. Hardy was found guilty by a judge of assaulting and threatening his former girlfriend and is awaiting a jury trial on appeal. Peterson and Hardy will be paid but won’t play while on the exempt list.