NFL institutes new domestic violence policy

Ray Rice has begun serving his two-game suspension for his fight with his then-fiancee, but the fallout from that fight continues to have a wide-reaching impact throughout the NFL.

On August 28, Commissioner Roger Goodell announced in a letter to all 32 team owners that the league would be implementing a new policy for domestic violence offenses by its players as part of its personal conduct policy, according to ESPN.com. Under the domestic violence section of the policy, which was unanimously approved by the owners, a player will be suspended for six games for a first offense, and will be banned for life with a second offense. Offenses don’t necessarily have to mean that the accused are found guilty in court, but the league says each case would be judged individually. However, someone who receives a lifetime ban can apply for reinstatement to the league after one year. The policy applies to all league personnel, and appears to be in response to harsh criticism the NFL has received following the announcement that Rice would be suspended for only two games after knocking his then-fiance Janay Palmer unconscious with a punch when they got into a fight inside an elevator in the Revel Casino in Atlantic City, New Jersey in February.

In a letter to owners, Goodell said of the decision for the two-game suspension for Rice: “We got it wrong.” He went on to write: “Our personal conduct policy has long made clear that domestic violence and sexual assault are unacceptable.” Goodell added that the league must do a better job of addressing domestic violence and sexual assault incidents, and will work to do so.

“Domestic violence and sexual assault are wrong. They are illegal. They are never acceptable and they have no place in the NFL under any circumstances,” Goodell wrote.

Under the policy, all players and other team and league personnel will start with a clean slate. However, it had barely gone into effect before a player already found himself under its microscope. San Francisco 49ers defensive end Ray McDonald was arrested on August 31 on suspicion of domestic violence. Head coach Jim Harbaugh (brother of Ravens head coach John Harbaugh) says that McDonald will play in the 49ers’ season opener at Dallas. General Manager Trent Baalke says the team will handle disciplining McDonald.

Ravens Coach Harbaugh Expresses Frustration After Another Player Arrest

By Andrew R. Koch

The Baltimore Ravens’ off-field troubles continue to mount, and head coach John Harbaugh has had enough of it.

The latest Raven to have a run-in with the law was fourth-round draft pick Lorenzo Taliaferro. He was arrested over Memorial Day weekend and charged with destruction of property and being drunk in public in Williamsburg, Virginia. The running back out of Coastal Carolina University is accused of breaking the window in a taxi. According to ESPN.com, a source familiar with the situation says Taliaferro has since reimbursed the cab company for the damage. He’s scheduled to appear in court in Williamsburg on June 26 to answer to the misdemeanor charges. Taliaferro is the fourth Ravens player who’s been arrested in the first five months of this year.

In addition, entertainment website TMZ is reporting that wide receiver Jacoby Jones, cornerback Jimmy Smith and running back Bernard Pierce were all asked to leave a bar over the holiday weekend for being too drunk.

At a press conference following a practice for organized team activities at the Under Armour Performance Center in Owings Mills, Harbaugh expressed his disappointment at what he calls “some of the silliness” that has gotten some of his players into trouble with the law. The message he tried to get across to his players is that their spot on the team is never guaranteed. He added that he’s “very concerned” about all the off-field issues hurting the team’s image, and urged his team to stay disciplined, both on and off the field.

“Discipline is not a light switch,” Harbaugh said, according to ESPN.com. “You can’t walk out of this building, and all of a sudden turn it off and walk back and turn it on.”

He added that discipline is a way of life, and that when a lack of it shows up in one area of a player’s life, it raises a red flag for where he’s going as a football player.

Harbaugh estimated that 90 percent of the off-field problems are related to alcohol, while nearly all the rest are related to marijuana. He feels that the world-class athletes on his team should be pursuing a higher standard instead of being out late at night partying.

“That is not what I would call an effective training method right there to go out and drink too much,” Harbaugh said, adding that the team will do everything it can to hold players who’ve gotten into trouble accountable. He said that if negative issues surrounding a player outweigh that player’s ability to help the team on the field, that player will find himself on the way out with the team.

Reid to Make Court Appearances in Florida

Ravens offensive lineman Jah Reid will have to make a court appearance to answer to charges stemming from a bar fight.

Reid has been charged with two counts of misdemeanor battery in connection with an argument that escalated into a fight inside a strip club in Key West. He’s accused of head-butting, kicking and punching a man when their argument turned physical. Reid has pleaded not guilty to the charges.

Reid was represented by his lawyer a docket hearing on June 4, and will have to attend a status hearing on June 13. According to ESPN.com, both proceedings are conferences to determine whether or not the case will actually go to trial.

Reid hasn’t been participating in the Ravens’ OTAs because of a strained calf. The injury could cause him to miss the rest of the team’s off-season workouts prior to training camp in late July.