(CBS) The NFL has implemented a new initiative for violations regarding assault, battery, domestic abuse and sexual assault that will penalize a first-time offender with a six-game suspension and hands out a lifetime ban for a second offense, according to a league memo obtained by multiple outlets, including USA Today.
From commissioner Roger Goodell’s letter:
Effective immediately, violations of the Personal Conduct Policy regarding assault, battery, domestic violence or sexual assault that involve physical force will be subject to a suspension without pay of six games for a first offense, with consideration given to mitigating factors, as well as a longer suspension when circumstances warrant. Among the circumstances that would merit a more severe penalty would be a prior incident before joining the NFL, or violence involving a weapon, choking, repeated striking, or when the act is committed against a pregnant woman or in the presence of a child. A second offense will result in banishment from the NFL; while an individual may petition for reinstatement after one year, there will be no presumption or assurance that the petition will be granted. These disciplinary standards will apply to all NFL personnel.
This new policy comes after the issue of domestic abuse came into the spotlight after Ravens running back Ray Rice was suspended for two games after video surfaced of him dragging his unconscious then-fiancee/now-wife out of an elevator following an incident last winter. The short suspension (especially in relation to other types of offenses) led to an outcry that the league wasn’t taking domestic abuse seriously.
Goodell acknowledged that in the letter.
At times, however … we fall short of our goals. We clearly did so in response to a recent incident of domestic violence. We allowed our standards to fall below where they should be and lost an important opportunity to emphasize our strong stance on a critical issue and the effective programs we have in place. My disciplinary decision led the public to question our sincerity, our commitment, and whether we understood the toll that domestic violence inflicts on so many families. I take responsibility both for the decision and for ensuring that our actions in the future properly reflect our values. I didn’t get it right. Simply put, we have to do better. And we will.
The six-game suspension for a first offense could be increased in some instances, ESPN.com reported.