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For example, more than half of players who have been accused of domestic violence during Roger Goodell's tenure as commissioner have gone without punishment from the league.
Indeed, the National Football League's policy when it comes to domestic violence against a player's spouse or girlfriend varies dramatically from case to case. Since Goodell took over as commissioner in August 2006, USA Today reports that there have been 57 cases of alleged domestic violence incidents.
While 10 players were cut from their teams as a result of the incidents, only 12 others received any form of suspension from the league. That means that the remaining 34 cases went unpunished, according to the USA Today database of all NFL player arrests. (One of the players included on the list killed himself after fatally shooting his girlfriend.)
The figures can be broken even further: USA Today reports that charges were dropped or never filed in 17 of the cases, and 14 others were allowed to go through some form of a diversion program or domestic violence counseling to have their charges dropped. Five of the cases ended in acquittals while only eight involved guilty pleas or the players agreeing to plea to a lesser charge. Of the 57 cases, which involve 54 players, 11 of the outcomes were listed as undetermined.
The NFL announced this week that they a new female executive to address social responsibility policies, including domestic violence and sexual assault and will be implementing new rules once they examine a number of ongoing cases.
“We are continuing to develop our organization to strengthen our ability to address the wide range of issues we face and other changes in our office will be announced soon,” Goodell and the NFL staff said in a statement released Monday.
Several players are listed repeatedly for alleged domestic violence incidents in the database. Although the league’s new policy would hand down lengthier punishments for repeat offenders, no such rule existed until after the backlash following this year’s Ray Rice incident.
Here are some of the most notable cases since 2006:
He was arrested on three different assault cases, but only one occurred during Goodell's time as commissioner. In 2008, he was charged in one incident of pushing a woman in a club and in a separate case that year he allegedly spit his drink at a woman and threatened her boyfriend. According to ESPN, he pleaded guilty to two counts of disturbing the peace in exchange for two years’ probation, after which the pleas would be removed from his record. During much of that time Johnson continued to play in the NFL for various teams.
Johnson no longer plays professionally after having been dropped by the Miami Dolphins in 2011.
He has allegedly had a spate of off-field altercations between January 2007 and March 2012 -- 13 of which involved his then-significant others, according to ESPN. In five different 2007 incidents, he was accused of punching, imprisoning, choking and cutting one girlfriend with glass. He was never charged in any of those incidents though he had to complete anger management counseling to have one of the charges dropped, according to The Chicago Tribune. He was acquitted of a misdemeanor battery charge that came from a 2008 incident with the same woman, ESPN reported.
Marshall was suspended for one game in 2008 for violating the league's personal conduct policy. The only other time he has been suspended came when he lost his cool at practice with the Denver Broncos in 2009 and his coach banned him from a little over a week of preseason practices. Marshall allegedly punched a different woman at a nightclub in New York City in March 2012 but charges were never filed in that case due to a lack of evidence, according to ESPN.
The Pittsburgh Steeler's linebacker was charged with simple assault and criminal mischief following an argument with his girlfriend. ESPN reported that the argument stemmed from whether or not they should baptize their son and resulted in her hiding in their bedroom before he broke down the door, slapped her in the face and snapped her phone in half as she tried calling 911.
He voluntarily entered anger management and psychological counseling and the charges were dropped, according to the Associated Press. He did not receive any punishment from the Steelers, even though they cut one of his teammates, Cedrick Wilson, after he was arrested for allegedly hitting his girlfriend in the face and The Commercial Appeal reported that he was later ordered to undergo eight weeks of anger management counseling. The team said that the discrepancy in punishments reflects the individual circumstances in each situation.
"Each incident must be considered on a case-by-case basis," team chairman Dan Rooney said in a statement to ESPN at the time. "In the situation with James Harrison, he contacted us immediately after his incident and has taken responsibility for his actions."
Although Rice is the latest member of the Baltimore Ravens to come under legal scrutiny, his teammate Terrell Suggs had a restraining order taken out against him in 2009 by his then-fiancée and the mother of his two children, according to The Baltimore Sun.
The newspaper obtained the arrest report that stated how the couple got in a fight over game day tickets which allegedly led to Suggs to knock his fiancée down before pouring bleach on both the woman and their child. The woman told police that he said he was going to "drown [her] with this bleach." She listed "busted lips, broken nose, black eyes, bruises" as "past injuries" and though a restraining order was requested at the time, no charges were filed, he received no punishment from the team, and the couple ended up getting married in 2012.
Chad 'Ochocinco' Johnson
A warrant was put out for Johnson's arrest after he allegedly head butted his wife in August 2012, leading to his dismissal from the Dolphins less than a full day later, ESPN reported. He pled no contest and was undergoing domestic violence counseling but violated the terms of his probation and was sent to jail for a few days after the judge took issue with him playfully slapping his attorney on the backside in court.