After the Ray Rice scandal, the NFL promised to change. Here's what's happened since

It's an awful but not unfamiliar story: Video is made public that shows a star NFL running back hitting a wo...

Posted: Dec 5, 2018 4:52 AM
Updated: Dec 5, 2018 4:52 AM

It's an awful but not unfamiliar story: Video is made public that shows a star NFL running back hitting a woman in a hotel. The footage seems to come as a shock to a league that had been slow to investigate the incident.

The sequence of events surrounding Kansas City Chiefs running back Kareem Hunt in the past few days has in many ways echoed how the NFL disciplined -- or failed to discipline -- Baltimore Ravens running back Ray Rice in 2014.

Companies

Football (American)

Investigations

Kareem Hunt

NFL

Ray Rice

Scandals

Sports and recreation

Sports figures

Sports organizations and teams

TMZ

Arrests

Continents and regions

Crime, law enforcement and corrections

Crimes against persons

Criminal law

Criminal offenses

Demographic groups

Domestic violence

Eastern Europe

Europe

Females (demographic group)

Government and public administration

Law and legal system

Law enforcement

Political Figures - US

Politics

Population and demographics

Robert Mueller

Russia

Russia meddling investigation

Societal issues

Society

Violence in society

Domestic violence programs

Families and children

Family services

Social assistance and welfare

After the NFL admitted to mishandling Rice's case, they asked former FBI director Robert Mueller -- now occupied with the Russia investigation -- to look into what went wrong and how the league could adjust its discipline process for its players moving forward. Mueller issued a 65-page report in January 2015 outlining a number of suggested improvements.

Now, almost four years later, it's worth looking back at that report's recommendations to learn how the NFL has changed its treatment of players accused of violence towards women -- and how it has come up short.

The NFL now does its own investigations -- with varying results

What the Mueller report said: In Rice's case, Mueller's report "identified a number of investigative steps that the League did not take to acquire additional information about what occurred inside the elevator."

The NFL did not reach out to the investigating police officers, the Atlantic County Prosecutor's Office, or the hotel to attempt to gain surveillance video or other information on Rice, Mueller found.

Because of that, the report recommended that the NFL more actively investigate when players are accused of domestic violence or violence against women.

What the NFL has done since: Most prominently, they hired former sex crimes prosecutor Lisa Friel to head up investigations into these issues and set up an investigative body.

So far, these investigations have fallen short in several high-profile cases.

The NFL did not respond to a request for comment for this story. But in previous statements regarding Hunt's case, the league said it began investigating immediately following an altercation with Hunt in February in which he shoved and kicked a woman in a Cleveland hotel. No arrests were made as a result of the incident and Hunt has not been charged with a crime, according to Cleveland Police.

The NFL did not make a formal request for police records or the surveillance video in Hunt's case until Friday, November 30 -- the same day TMZ published the surveillance video to their website, Cleveland Police Public Information Officer Sgt. Jennifer Ciaccia told CNN.

The league said it was unable to get access to the hotel video and was not able to speak with the complainants in the hotel fight. The NFL also did not interview Hunt, the player said in an interview with ESPN on Sunday. After TMZ released the video on Friday, Hunt was placed on the commissioner's exempt list and then cut by the Chiefs.

The failure to get access to the video has revealed some flaws with the NFL's efforts to conduct investigations.

Former NFL communications vice president Joe Lockhart pointed out that TMZ pays its sources, a practice frowned upon by mainstream media organizations, including CNN.

"People have talked about why does TMZ get this stuff and the NFL doesn't? Well, TMZ pays for it. They go in and they find someone who works at the hotel, gives him five, ten, fifteen thousand dollars, and they get it," Lockhart said. "The NFL as an organization, like CNN, The New York Times, or ESPN, doesn't condone that kind of practice."

In addition, the NFL is a private business and not a law enforcement body. Despite the presence of former prosecutors on its investigative team, the NFL does not have subpoena power to get evidence or interview witnesses.

The end result is that the NFL did attempt the investigatory moves that the Mueller report recommended. But when they were unable to see the hotel video or speak to witnesses, they had little or nothing to show for them.

The league doesn't always follow its own policy on suspensions

What the Mueller report said: In 2014, Ray Rice was arrested and charged with assault for striking his then-fiancee and knocking her unconscious in a New Jersey hotel. He pleaded not guilty and agreed to a pretrial intervention program that would allow the charges to be dismissed.

NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell suspended Rice for two regular season football games as punishment. But when TMZ released the video of the assault, the NFL changed course and suspended Rice indefinitely. He has not played since.

Even before the video came out, though, Goodell admitted that the two-game suspension was too lenient and created a discipline standard: Any players who violated the league's personal conduct policy regarding assault, battery, domestic violence or sexual assault with physical force would be suspended six games for a first offense.

The Mueller report praised that policy and said it "reflects the importance of imposing discipline on the basis of the underlying conduct and not based only on the disposition of the criminal case."

What the NFL has done since: Despite its discipline policy, the NFL has not held fast to that six-game standard in several incidents of violence against women.

New York Giants kicker Josh Brown was suspended for just one game after his 2015 arrest in connection with an incident with his estranged wife. The NFL said its decision was based on its inability to speak with Brown's wife or get timely information from the sheriff's office.

However, authorities in Washington state released letters and journal entries in which Brown admitted to abusing his wife. After that, the NFL reversed itself and placed him on the commissioner's exempt list, and he was cut by the Giants. He has not played in the NFL since.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback Jameis Winston was suspended for just three games earlier this season as part of a negotiated settlement with the NFL. He had been accused of groping a female Uber driver in Scottsdale, Arizona in March 2016.

In addition, linebacker Reuben Foster was charged with felony domestic violence in April for allegedly attacking his girlfriend at their home, the Santa Clara County District Attorney said. The charges were dismissed after the victim recanted her story, although the DA's office said the evidence showed he "seriously hurt" her.

The NFL did not suspend Foster for that domestic violence arrest. Instead, the NFL suspended him for two games this season in relation to a separate weapons offense and misdemeanor drug offense, the league said.

There are a number of other examples of players receiving suspensions under six games for similar arrests of violence against women. The end result is that the policy standardizing a six-game suspension has not functioned as a hard and fast rule.

Discipline seems influenced by video, public outcry

What the Mueller report said: The suspension policy was just one part of what was supposed to be a standardized process for dealing with such incidents of violence.

The report recommended that the NFL adopt written guidelines for its investigative team. The guidelines would cover what to do when there is no arrest, directions for obtaining relevant records and contacting relevant people and authorities, and expectations in terms of timing and thoroughness of the result.

What the NFL has done since: In practice, the NFL's discipline decisions appear to have been based on public outcry -- and in particular, visual evidence of wrongdoing.

The cases of Hunt and Rice are most similar in how TMZ's release of video caused the NFL to take immediate action. The visual evidence resulted in a much harsher discipline.

Still, Lockhart, the former NFL communications official, said it's important for the NFL to keep up a standard for playing in the league, even if teams may not follow that standard.

For example, the Washington Redskins signed Foster this week just days after he was arrested in another domestic violence case. Lockhart said that signing shows the need to maintain a standard for the entire NFL, not just individual teams.

"You've got 32 owners each with their own standards. There's clearly some owners who will put winning in front of ethical behavior, and I think that's the case with the Redskins," he said. "But what the league tries to do, and I think they get it right most of the time, is say there is a standard for all 32."

Huntsville
Broken Clouds
65° wxIcon
Hi: 82° Lo: 62°
Feels Like: 65°
Florence
Broken Clouds
65° wxIcon
Hi: 82° Lo: 63°
Feels Like: 65°
Fayetteville
Overcast
64° wxIcon
Hi: 80° Lo: 62°
Feels Like: 64°
Decatur
Scattered Clouds
65° wxIcon
Hi: 81° Lo: 62°
Feels Like: 65°
Scottsboro
Overcast
66° wxIcon
Hi: 80° Lo: 63°
Feels Like: 66°
WAAY Radar
WAAY WAAY-TV Cam
WAAY Temperatures

Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Confirmed Cases: 16530

Reported Deaths: 591
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Mobile2124112
Jefferson1712100
Montgomery154134
Tuscaloosa67813
Marshall6689
Lee53332
Franklin5147
Shelby48419
Tallapoosa41864
Butler39213
Chambers34924
Madison3184
Elmore3137
Walker2991
Baldwin2819
Etowah24411
Dallas2443
DeKalb2413
Morgan2311
Coffee2241
Lowndes22210
Sumter2136
Autauga2053
Houston1884
Bullock1833
Pike1790
Colbert1612
Russell1590
Marengo1556
Lauderdale1532
Calhoun1523
Hale1517
Choctaw1488
Wilcox1347
Barbour1321
Clarke1292
Randolph1257
Marion11911
St. Clair1161
Pickens1014
Talladega1003
Dale990
Chilton971
Cullman960
Greene924
Limestone870
Winston820
Covington771
Jackson752
Crenshaw722
Bibb711
Henry712
Macon712
Washington666
Blount581
Escambia493
Lawrence460
Geneva400
Conecuh351
Coosa351
Monroe352
Perry350
Cherokee342
Clay272
Lamar210
Fayette130
Cleburne131
Unassigned00

Tennessee Coronavirus Cases

Confirmed Cases: 21679

Reported Deaths: 356
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Davidson489460
Shelby4718107
Trousdale13934
Rutherford111622
Sumner85245
Hamilton71915
Bledsoe6081
Williamson53310
Putnam4615
Robertson4412
Tipton4303
Lake4130
Wilson3878
Out of TN3794
Knox3575
Bedford2744
Montgomery2613
Rhea1980
Hardeman1940
Madison1752
Loudon1370
McMinn13614
Macon1243
Cheatham1180
Cumberland1111
Dickson1100
Fayette1102
Bradley1081
Blount893
Maury810
Sevier762
Washington750
Coffee680
Unassigned670
Wayne630
Gibson611
Monroe612
Sullivan602
Hickman570
Lauderdale561
Dyer500
Franklin491
Greene482
Anderson391
Marion381
DeKalb370
Grundy321
Hawkins312
Haywood302
Smith301
Hamblen302
Henry300
Marshall301
White300
Obion281
Jefferson280
Carroll271
Meigs260
Overton260
Weakley260
Lincoln250
Lawrence240
Warren220
Cocke200
Carter191
Jackson170
Morgan170
Cannon170
Campbell171
Roane160
Crockett162
Perry160
Johnson160
Polk150
Sequatchie150
Henderson140
Humphreys131
Chester120
Fentress120
Giles120
McNairy120
Scott110
Stewart110
Hardin112
Claiborne90
Houston80
Benton71
Grainger60
Clay60
Decatur50
Van Buren40
Union40
Unicoi40
Moore30
Pickett30
Lewis30
Hancock10

 

 

Community Events