(NEW YORK) — NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell has ramped up the league’s efforts to address the growing issue of players arrested for domestic violence, saying in a memo that his office is taking “significant steps” to educate teams on the issue through a series of programs.
In the memo sent out on Thursday, Goodell said the NFL has initiated a “long-term commitment to help people affected by domestic violence and sexual assault.”
ESPN obtained the memo a day after the National Domestic Violence Hotline announced that the NFL had “committed to providing significant resources to the organization” in order to help women who have been abused by their boyfriends or husbands.
“We have never had the funding needed to meet the demand for our services from those seeking help with domestic violence and dating abuse. Last year, because of this lack of resources, more than 77,000 calls went unanswered. Recent domestic violence incidents involving NFL players pushed the capacity of our organization to unprecedented levels,” said Katie Ray-Jones, President and CEO of the National Domestic Violence Hotline.
“Because of this long-term commitment by the NFL to provide The Hotline with much-needed resources, our services will finally be accessible to all those who need us when they bravely take the first step to find safety and live a life free of abuse,” she added.
The move comes after the NFL has been hit with several high-profile cases of players arrested for domestic violence. The league has also come under fire for the way it has handled cases in the past.
Goodell is expected to hold a news conference this afternoon in New York on domestic violence and the league’s personal conduct policy.
The group, who announced the agreement in a news release posted to its website, did not specify how much the NFL had given them.
The organization said that just days after the release of a video last week showing Baltimore Ravens running back Ray Rice punching his then-fiancé in an elevator, the Hotline’s call volume increased by 84 percent.
Goodell, who has come under fire in recent days with some calling on him to resign, said it is also educating all its employees.
“We are also proceeding to implement broad educational programs within our league. Starting within the next 30 days, all league and team personnel — including executives, coaches, players and staff — will participate in education 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. We will work with the NFL Players Association to develop and present this training in the most effective way,” he said in the memo.
Goodell also said that all teams — including executives, coaches, players and staff — will “receive comprehensive information about domestic violence and sexual assault resources in your communities, including local advocacy and support organizations. This will enable teams to connect with those local organizations for both personnel matters and public service. League staff at all locations will also receive domestic violence and sexual assault information.”
He added, “These are by no means final steps. 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.”
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