Democratic senators condemned the National Football League’s (NFL) “lenient punishment” of Baltimore Ravens running back Ray Rice for incidents of domestic abuse.

Sens. Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), Tammy Baldwin (D-Wis.) and Chris Murphy (D-Conn.) wrote a letter Thursday to NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell calling on him to issue a stiffer penalty against Rice and set up procedures to ensure domestic violence is properly punished within the league.


“Mr. Rice’s suspension reflects a disturbingly lenient, even cavalier attitude towards violence against women,” the senators wrote. “We therefore urge you to take two steps immediately. First, reconsider and revise Mr. Rice’s suspension to more adequately reflect the seriousness of his offense.”

Rice was given a two-game suspension for a domestic violence incident involving his then-fiancee.

“We were dismayed to learn of the National Football League’s plainly inadequate remedy imposed on Baltimore Ravens running back Ray Rice for hitting his then-fiancee hard enough to knock her unconscious and then dragging her out of an elevator,” the senators wrote. “The decision to suspend Mr. Rice for a mere two games sends the inescapable message that the NFL does not take domestic or intimate-partner violence with the seriousness they deserve.”

The senators said they were also writing Ravens General Manager Ozzie Newsome urging him to increase Rice’s penalty if Goodell wouldn’t.

“We are also writing to the Baltimore Ravens to request that they impose additional discipline under their own authority, but it is imperative that the NFL itself makes clear that this conduct is truly unacceptable,” the letter stated.