ECLECTIC RANT: Ray McDonald Case May Test NFL’s New Domestic Violence Policy

Ralph E. Stone
Friday September 05, 2014 - 08:56:00 AM

I have seen the terrible toll on victims of domestic violence as a volunteer at the Cooperative Restraining Order Clinic (CROC), helping victims of domestic violence obtain restraining orders against their abusers. 

Statistics show that 1 in 4 women will experience domestic violence in her lifetime, and 1.3 million women are victims of assault by an intimate partner each year. This is simply intolerable. 

Research about whether male athletes are more likely than men in general to commit violence against women is inconclusive, but evidence exists that professional athletes are not punished by their leagues, teams or the criminal justice system as harshly or as consistently as members of the general public. According to “The San Diego Union-Tribune” database of the 32 NFL teams, 21 of them have this year had at least one player who has been charged with domestic violence or sexual assault. (Some were, of course, acquitted.) It should be noted, however, from CROC’s experience, charges are sometimes withdrawn even when the accused is likely to be guilty. 

Consider that women now make up almost half the NFL fan base. More women watched the Super Bowl than the Oscars. And the NFL for four years has targeted women to sell them licensed NFL apparel. That’s why the spotlight should shine on the alleged domestic violence by Ray McDonald, a San Francisco 49er defensive end who was arrested on August 31, 2014, for felony domestic violence against his fiancee, who is 10 weeks pregnant. 

The NFL has finally instituted a policy of imposing a six-game suspension for the first offense of domestic violence, and if a second occurs, an indefinite ban on the employee or player. The McDonald matter may be a test case for this new NFL policy on domestic violence.