NFL orders abuse awareness training

ByJane McManus ESPN logo
Friday, September 19, 2014

All NFL team personnel and staff will be required to undergo training on the prevention of domestic violence and sexual assault starting within 30 days, according to a letter commissioner Roger Goodell sent to team owners.

The development came as Goodell on Friday readied to make his first public statements in more than a week about the rash of NFL players involved in domestic violence. His news conference is scheduled for3 p.m. ET in New York, his first public appearance since attending a high school function in North Carolina on Sept. 10.

The memo he issued Thursday says: "These initial sessions will begin to provide the men and women of the NFL with information and tools to understand and recognize domestic violence and sexual assault. We will work with the NFL Players Association to develop and present this training in the most effective way."

It is the latest attempt to quell harsh public and sponsor criticism of the league's response to domestic violence and child abuse in the wake of formerRavensrunning back Ray Rice's suspension and Vikings running back Adrian Peterson's arrest.

The crisis is eliciting cooperation between the league and the NFLPA, who have been at odds over many issues but recently agreed to a new drug policy. On Tuesday, the NFLPA announced it was appealing Rice's suspension on procedural grounds. Goodell will cede the Rice appeal to a neutral arbitrator.

The letter also informs owners of new partnerships with several groups, including funding for the National Domestic Violence Hotline, an online forum for teens called Loveisrespect that offers chat advice on dating abuse and the National Sexual Violence Resource Center.

"The NFL's initial support will be directed toward state coalitions to provide additional resources to state and local sexual assault hotlines," the letter reads.

Over the past few days, criticism of the league has gotten louder, particularly from sponsors. Radisson put its support of the Vikings on hiatus after the team reinstated Peterson following an indictment for child abuse. The team has since placed him on the exempt/commissioner's permission list.

Indra Nooyi, chairman and CEO of PepsiCo, released a statement that she was "deeply disturbed" by the recent events around the league.

According to CBS Sports, Procter & Gamble has pulled out of the league's plans for breast cancer awareness in October. Each year, the NFL dons pink to celebrate women in October.

Goodell closes the letter by saying the NFL plans to put "significant resources" behind domestic violence awareness and support for victims.

"These are by no means final steps," Goodell concludes. "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."

At Carolina Panthers practice on Friday, coach Ron Rivera said he hasn't heard much about what Goodell will say this afternoon. Panthers defensive end Greg Hardy was put on the commissioner's exempt list on Wednesday until his domestic violence case is resolved

"The nice thing about it, this is really the only silver lining, is domestic violence has been brought to the forefront. It's out there and we have to do something about it," Rivera said. "I'm also glad people recognize this is not just an NFL problem. It's a societal problem.''

Information from ESPN Panthers reporter David Newton was used in this report.

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