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Over the last couple of weeks, NFL fans have been confronted with a video of Ray Rice punching his fiancee in the head and with photographs of the wounds of a four-year-old child whom Adrian Peterson beat in the legs, buttocks, and scrotum with a tree branch.
In response, Goodell has announced that Anna Isaacson, currently the NFL's Vice President of Community Affairs and Philanthropy, will assume a newly-created position: vice president of social responsibility. It's fair to assume that Ms. Isaacson will correctly conclude that punching women and beating children is criminal, rather than "socially responsible." She can also be expected to note that these acts bring the authorities in the person of the police, prosecutors, judges, and the President of the United States into the affairs of the NFL. This the NFL would rather avoid, since time the league spends defending itself is time stolen from maximizing profits.
[sidebar title="Vikings Say Peterson Won't Play" width="630" align="right"]On Wednesday, the Minnesota Vikings changed their position on when Adrian Peterson will play again and one of Peterson's sponsors distanced itself from the running back.[/sidebar]Goodell has also appointed three outside consultants: Lisa Friel, former head of the New York County District Attorney's Sex Crimes Unit; Jane Randel, co-founder of the domestic violence awareness group NO MORE; and Rita Smith, former executive director of the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence.
I hope the news of these appointments, encouraging as they are, will not reinforce the notion that only women are concerned about domestic violence and child abuse. Lots of men are as well.
And I hope also that nobody will be fooled into thinking that these appointments alone will appreciably change the attitudes or the behavior of NFL players inclined to punch women or whip toddlers.
Over the long run, education might do that. It's encouraging - perhaps necessary - to believe that it will.
In the short term, perhaps the only way to address criminal acts committed by NFL players is for the commissioner, the owners, and the Players' Association to amend the collective bargaining agreement as follows:
"Players who punch or otherwise assault women will be fined a minimum of $10 million, and a maximum of however many dollars the Vice President of Social Responsibility and the new consultants can imagine, all of the money to be distributed among the women who've been punched or otherwise assaulted.
Players who abuse children will be fined a minimum of all the money they have been paid since signing their first contracts, all of it to be held in trust for the abused children."
That would get their attention.
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