The Senate Commerce Committee on Tuesday held a hearing on the issue of domestic violence in professional sports that included testimony from representatives of the four major North American sports leagues and their respective players' associations, according to the Associated Press.
The most notable testimony came from NFL vice president of football operations Troy Vincent, who began to tear up as he discussed his own experience with domestic violence as a child.
Vincent said his mother was beaten "numerous times' while he and his brother were children, leaving the siblings to call police after the violence had ended.
From Vincent's statement to the committee:
"We saw how she struggled to seek help, and find the voice and courage to say 'no more.' The sense of fear, powerlessness, and all the complexities that accompany this violence remain very real to me today. I have worked for more than 20 years as an advocate against domestic violence to try to help keep others from experiencing this pain. So I very much relate to the 12 million victims of domestic violence and sexual assault in every community in this nation, amongst every economic class and racial and ethnic group."
According to the AP, various members of the committee complimented or criticized the leagues for their policies regarding and responses to domestic violence. Sen. Jay Rockefeller (D-W.V.), who called for the hearing, called Vincent's statement "a good beginning."
Vincent also detailed the NFL's plan for responding to the criticism of its domestic violence policies, including the impending creation of a new disciplinary policy, the creation of education programs and the release of anti-domestic violence PSAs.
Vincent said the changes to the NFL's personal conduct policy will be implemented "soon."
Domestic violence has become a national topic in the wake of the Ray Rice domestic violence controversy in the NFL. After initially suspending Rice just two games, the NFL increased its suspension to an indefinite length in September after the release of video that showed Rice striking then-fiancée Janay Palmer. Rice was reinstated last week after an arbitrator ruled that Rice didn't mislead the NFL about the incident when meeting with the league before the initial suspension.
Recent domestic violence incidents in the other professional leagues include those of Los Angeles Kings defenseman Slava Voynov, currently suspended indefinitely while his case is being adjudicated, and Charlotte Hornets forward Jeffery Taylor, who was suspended 24 games after pleading guilty in his case. MLB has not had a recent notable domestic violence case involving a player or other league representative.
- Ben Estes