Rep. Jackie SpeierKaren (Jackie) Lorraine Jacqueline SpeierJimmy and Rosalynn Carter celebrate 75th anniversary, longest-married presidential couple Military braces for sea change on justice reform House panel plans mid-July consideration of military justice overhaul MORE (D-Calif.) on Wednesday called on the National Football League to immediately suspend any players arrested for domestic violence, slamming what she called the sport’s “deafening silence” on the issue.
Speier said the NFL should change its policy to keep accused abusers off the field and said the league ignores domestic violence cases so that stars, such as former Baltimore Ravens running back Ray Rice, could keep playing.
"Anything for football. It's a phrase I have heard a lot recently that we should ignore what happens off the field for the sake of the sport," Speier said on the House floor.
"Recently, anything for football has been used to justify an organization that perpetrates violence and sexism rather than teamwork, family and sport. Instead of fighting injustice off the field for the sake of the sport, the NFL chooses deafening silence," she continued.
"We are told to ignore what happens off the sidelines in disciplinary board rooms, or behind elevator doors. All for the sport. Well, I refuse to ignore what is happening," said Speier.
TMZ posted a video earlier this month showing Rice punching his then-fiancee, Janay Palmer, who was knocked unconscious. Rice was originally handed a two-game ban, but after the video surfaced, public outrage led the Ravens to cut him and the league to suspend him indefinitely.
Lawmakers were quick to press the NFL on the issue, with 16 female senators calling for a zero-tolerance policy for domestic violence.
Speier said she will send a letter to NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell and team owners later this week calling on them to change their policy so that players arrested for domestic violence are immediately suspended.
"The NFL thinks they can enforce their own justice internally. They have failed. The NFL should change their policies so these players stay on the bench while they are investigated," Speier said.
The California Democrat, a self-described "avid 49ers fan," said Goodell had "hushed" domestic violence cases in which his players had been implicated.
"Commissioner Roger Goodell is judge and jury. Yet he is also the one who stands to profit by seeing these cases hushed and unpunished," Speier said. "The NFL has been inconsistent in its repines ranging from counseling to a single game suspension to conditional fines, to nothing at all," Speier said.
"I'm an avid 49ers fan, but this is disgusting," Speier added.