NFL To Crack Down On Domestic Violence Amid Criticism Of Ray Rice Punishment

BALTIMORE (WJZ) — Starting now, NFL players who commit domestic abuse will get triple the punishment Ray Rice did for his assault case. Players who do it a second time will  be banned for life.

Christie Ileto explains the new penalties mark a significant change in attitude from the league.

It’s sending a message to the players and to the fans who look up to them that this type of behavior won’t be tolerated.

It’s the incident that landed running back Ray Rice with a two-game suspension after police say he knocked his wife unconscious in a casino elevator.

“Her pain is my pain, my pain is her pain,” Rice said during a public apology.

But as of Thursday, if a player is caught doing something similar, it means a six-game suspension for first time offenders and a lifetime ban if done twice.

It’s NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell’s way of saying he made a mistake in the Ray Rice case. In a letter to team owners, he wrote: “I didn’t get it right… We have to do better. And we will.”

“He’s showing everybody in the league this is not something you can do and get off lightly for it,” said Ravens fan Darryl Tarver.

Fans are already on board. The House of Ruth Maryland is calling it unprecedented: “This type of leadership is critical to changing attitudes and behaviors in our society as it relates to violence against women. We know that with the NFL’s substantial influence we can make groundbreaking progress in the fight against intimate partner violence.”

Earlier this month, Goodell defended Rice’s two-game suspension. It’s a complete 180 from the new penalties being handed down now.

“You have to respond to facts here. You have a lot of people voicing their opinions,” Goodell said.

Backlash followed his August 1 interview. Federal lawmakers even called Rice’s punishment “disturbingly lenient.”

But now: “Something like this will definitely hold other people accountable,” one woman said.

Players facing a lifetime ban would be able to apply for reinstatement under the new policy.

The NFL Players Association released this statement: “We were informed today of the NFL’s decision to increase penalties on domestic violence offenders under the Personal Conduct Policy for all NFL employees. As we do in all disciplinary matters, if we believe that players’ due process rights are infringed upon during the course of discipline, we will assert and defend our members’ rights.”

WJZ has learned the Ravens will partner with House of Ruth for a new domestic awareness campaign, including a $600,000 donation from the team.

“We are thrilled to partner with the Baltimore Ravens on such an important initiative,” said House of Ruth Maryland’s Executive Director Sandi Timmins. “The reaction in our society has always been ‘Why doesn’t she just leave?’ The Baltimore Ravens have pledged to assist us in shifting the paradigm to change that question to: ‘Why does HE think it is ok to abuse her?’ It’s time for men to speak up, to take responsibility for their behavior, and to hold each other to having partner relationships that are healthy. It’s time to ‘Man Up!’”

“The Ravens recognize the outstanding service the House of Ruth Maryland provides to our community and we want to help increase its influence,” said Baltimore Ravens President Dick Cass. “We also look forward to the education the House of Ruth Maryland will provide to members of our organization.”

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