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Lawmakers ask NFL to punish teams that don't address domestic violence

U.S. Senator Brian Schatz (D-HI) and U.S. Representative Jackie Speier (D-CA) wrote a letter to NFL commissioner Roger Goodell asking the league to take away draft picks from teams that don’t take domestic violence seriously
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U.S. Senator Brian Schatz (D-HI) and U.S. Representative Jackie Speier (D-CA) wrote a letter to NFL commissioner Roger Goodell asking the league to take away draft picks from teams that don’t take domestic violence seriously.

In the letter dated Feb. 24, Schatz and Speier say they appreciate the efforts the NFL has made to address its domestic violence problem.

“We respect your efforts to establish this policy with input from multiple stakeholders and your commitment to ensuring that child abuse, domestic violence, sexual abuse, animal abuse and other violent behaviors are not tolerated,” the letter said.

The NFL and Goodell came under fire last season for its handling of domestic violence issues in the wake of a case involving former Baltimore Ravens running back Ray Rice. Rice was initially handed a two-game suspension, but he was later suspended indefinitely after a videotape surfaced showing him hitting his now-wife in an Atlantic City hotel casino elevator.

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​ Rice later won his appeal against the league after an arbitrator ruled that Rice did not mislead Goodell during their meeting last summer and that he should have not been suspended beyond the original two games.

The letter from Schatz and Speier said that NFL executive vice president of football operations Troy Vincent testified in December to a Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation that teams that do not sufficiently prevent domestic violence and sexual assaults amongst its employees will have draft picks taken away.

The lawmakers noted in the letter that there is precedence of taking draft picks away for teams who break NFL rules. In 2007, the New England Patriots were fined $500,000 and had their 2008 first-round pick taken away after an investigation found the team secretly videotaped New York Jets defensive coaches' signals during a game.

The New Orleans Saints were fined $500,000 and forfeited their second-round draft picks in 2012 and 2013 after several players were found to be involved in a bounty program.

Last month, U.S. Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) wrote a letter to Goodell saying league’s recent efforts to handle the problem of domestic violence amongst its players is a “mockery of any real commitment." He called the NFL's $5 million annual pledge to the Domestic Violence Hotline and the National Sexual Violence Resource Center, “terribly insufficient."

Schatz and Speier said they wanted clarification on whether draft pick removal will be used on teams that do not adhere to the domestic violence policy.

- Scooby Axson