The owners of the 32 NFL teams have approved a new personal conduct policy. When two star players were charged with acts of domestic violence, the NFL had to admit that it had never taken it seriously and that it was time for change. Roger Goodell will be tested on that policy and his decision will reveal how serious he is about ending domestic violence and sexual assault in the NFL.
Junior Galette is a six-feet-two-inch, 258 pound outside linebacker for the New Orleans Saints. Monday morning police were called to his home to investigate a “disturbance.” What they found was a 22 year old woman who was bleeding from her left ear. It appeared that an earring had been torn out and she also had scratch marks on her face.
There were several conflicting stories. The woman said she had been living in Galette’s home for two years, doing chores and running errands. Monday morning he asked her to leave. She woke him up later and asked for cab fare. Galette told his cousin who was at the home to “take care of it.” The two men, Galette and Terrance Banks, reportedly pushed her out of the house and she fell down. Both of the men ended up on top of the woman and she became frightened. She somehow found a knife to defend herself with.When all the reports were taken, the officers decided to arrest Galette and Banks. The main factor was that the struggle was between two large men and a single woman. Both men are out on bail.
The decision relating to guilt or innocence will be made by the court system, not Goodell. The significance of this case is that it is the first domestic violence case reported after the new personal conduct policy was instituted by the NFL league office. What decision and what punishment, if any, will be administered by Goodell?
Another situation which may test the new policy involves a wide receiver who is a member of the University of Oklahoma’s current team. Dorial Green-Beckham was playing for Missouri when he was dismissed last April from the University for pushing an 18-year-old woman down a flight of stairs. He had also been arrested twice for possession of marijuana.
He transferred to Oklahoma and sat out the season as a redshirt. If he declares his eligibility for the 2015 NFL draft, he will be facing an automatic six game suspension under the new personal conduct rules. His status in the draft could be severely diminished.
Green-Beckham was one of the most highly sought recruits out of high school and he did not disappoint. In his freshman season he caught 28 passes for 395 yards and five touchdowns. He proved his worth in his sophomore season by catching 59 passes for 883 yards and 12 touchdowns.
Goodell has been ambiguous in his level of punishment for NFL players who violate the league’s drug policy, player protection efforts and domestic violence issues. His handling of the Ray Rice situation revealed lies and attempted cover-ups. Last week’s playoff game between the Detroit Lions and Dallas Cowboys witnessed a reversal of a suspension of the Lion’s star defensive lineman Ndamukong Suh. He was fined $70,000 for intentionally stomping on the ankle of Green Bay Packers’ quarterback Aaron Rodgers. This was his ninth such offense.
Multiple questions continue to exist about the “new and improved policy” and how Goodell will use it. No answers were forthcoming. Speculation that there will be little if any change may be closer to the truth than Goodell would want people to believe.
Opinion By James Turnage