While absent from public view for 10 days, Commissioner Roger Goodell and his administration have been working on specific efforts to address the problems of domestic violence and sexual assault beyond the boundaries of the NFL.
In a memo sent Thursday night to all teams, a copy of which PFT has obtained, Goodell outlined the league’s plans to support organizations aimed at preventing domestic violence and sexual assault and helping those impacted by it.
“In my letter of August 28, I said we would ensure that everyone in the NFL has knowledge of and access to resources — both through and independent of the clubs — relating to issues of domestic violence and sexual assault,” Goodell wrote. “I also said that we recognize that these issues affect our entire society, and that we would work to make a genuine and positive difference in a broader context. Today, I write to update you on some significant steps we are taking as part of our long-term commitment to help people affected by domestic violence and sexual assault.
“It was brought to our attention that recent events caused The National Domestic Violence Hotline to receive 84 percent more calls during the week of September 8-15. According to the organization, more than 50 percent of those calls went unanswered due to lack of staff. That must not continue.
“To help address this and other critical and immediate needs, we are entering into long-term partnerships to provide financial, operational and promotional support to two of the leading domestic violence and sexual assault resources: The National Domestic Violence Hotline (The Hotline) and the National Sexual Violence Resource Center (NSVRC). These commitments will enable both The Hotline and NSVRC to help more people affected by domestic violence and sexual assault.”
As a result of the NFL’s support, The Hotline will add 25 full-time advocates in the coming weeks, which will allow for an additional 750 calls per day to be answered. The league’s support of the NSVRC will bolster state and local sexual assault hotlines.
“The NFL’s support also will enable Loveisrespect to service 24-hour-a-day text chats with young adults affected by dating abuse,” Goodell wrote. “Loveisrespect, a project of the National Domestic Violence Hotline and Break the Cycle, is a resource to engage, educate and empower youth and young adults to prevent and end abusive relationships.”
Goodell also explained that, within the next 30 days, all league and team personnel will participate in educational sessions on domestic violence and sexual assault.
“These initial sessions will begin to provide the men and women of the NFL with information and tools to understand and recognize domestic violence and sexual assault,” Goodell wrote. “We will work with the NFL Players Association to develop and present this training in the most effective way.”
The league also will dedicate “significant resources” to raising awareness on the issues of domestic violence and sexual assault.
“These are by no means final steps,” Goodell wrote. “We will continue to work with experts to expand and develop long-term programs that raise awareness, educate, and prevent domestic violence and sexual assault both within the NFL and in our society in general.”
It’s a good start, and it goes a long way toward Goodell’s plan to convert recent events into positive change, for the NFL and beyond.