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Piling on the NFL

Making Sense by Michael Reagan

Domestic violence just doesn't happen on elevators.

And it's not just committed by former NFL running backs.

But don't tell that to the people who've been calling for NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell to quit over his fumbling of the Ray Rice case.

Based on what's been on TV all week, you'd think pro football and its nearly 3,000 well-paid athletes have the monopoly on domestic violence in America.

The U.S. Justice Department disagrees.

According to its web site, "Domestic violence can happen to anyone regardless of race, age, sexual orientation, religion, or gender. Domestic violence affects people of all socioeconomic backgrounds and education levels...."

What's more, domestic violence against women is a serious and pervasive problem around the globe.

The numbers are fuzzy and hard to prove, but a United Nations study has claimed "that at least one out of every three women around the world has been beaten, coerced into sex, or otherwise abused in her lifetime."

Despite what the Justice Department says, however, we still see the Ray Rice video 10 times a day. And the media pundits are still throwing penalty flags at the NFL like it's the only "industry" in town with a domestic abuse problem.

Yeah, football is a really violent sport.

And yeah, every time a Steelers quarterback sexually assaults a woman in bar, a Patriots linebacker is accused of murdering someone or a Ravens running back punches out his future wife, America hears about it 24/7 for weeks.

But like such other terrible acts like murder and child abuse, the incidence of domestic violence among NFL players isn't off the charts.

In fact, it's lower than the rate of the general population. And it's lower than the rate among the poor and among police and military families.

I'm aware of the military's problem with domestic violence.

I once spoke at a fund-raiser at the Fort Leonard Wood Army base in Missouri that was raising money to build a home for abused wives. Its second home.

The NFL is being hit by so much heavy criticism for mishandling the Ray Rice incident, its front office lost its mind this week.

The league announced the hiring of a four-woman panel of domestic-violence experts to "help lead and shape the NFL's policies and programs relating to domestic violence and sexual assault."

It also named a new VP of social responsibility.

The NFL is doing PR damage control and groveling before its critics. But nothing it will do or say will satisfy people like the National Organization for Women.

NOW wants to see Goodell fired for initially giving Rice only a two-game suspension. And it says despite the tougher penalties for players who commit domestic violence, Roger and his boys still don't get it.

Beating up on the rich and powerful NFL makes some people feel good, I guess. But come on, guys. Let's be fair — and consistent.

If domestic violence is everywhere, why should pro football be the only "industry" being pressured to crack down on its employees who are accused — but not yet convicted -- of it?

Why should NFL players be the only star athletes to automatically get suspended for six games without pay for a first offense? What about the stars of baseball, basketball, hockey, soccer and snowboarding?

And why stop at sports? Let's create four-person panels and zero-tolerance policies on domestic violence all over America.

For instance, CNN, Fox and NBC should put together a panel and do its part to fight domestic violence. If a news anchor is accused of domestic violence on Sunday, he's out of work on Monday.

Especially if there's video.


Copyright© 2014 Michael Reagan. Michael Reagan is the son of President Ronald Reagan, a political consultant, and the author of "The New Reagan Revolution" (St. Martin's Press). He is the founder of the email service and president of The Reagan Legacy Foundation. Visit his websites at and Send comments to Follow @reaganworld on Twitter.

Mike's column is distributed exclusively by Cagle Cartoons newspaper syndicate. For info on using columns contact Sales at

This column has been edited by the author. Representations of fact and opinions are solely those of the author.

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