Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) said he would introduce a bill to hold sports leagues accountable for domestic violence issues with players.

“The tentacles of domestic violence reach into every aspect of American life,” Blumenthal said on the Senate floor Wednesday. “It affects our entire society.”


Blumenthal, who has been critical of National Football League (NFL) Commissioner Roger Goodell’s handling of recent domestic violence reports, said his legislation would incentivize good behavior from all sports leagues that enjoy the benefits of antitrust law exemptions.

“I will propose legislation to sunset the league's special antitrust treatment — ending its blanket antitrust exemption and making it renewable every five years,” Blumenthal said. “These exemptions should depend on the leagues acting consistent with its public trust — complying with ethical and legal standards and accountability to fans.

"Their fans deserve better."

The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) enforces antitrust laws to ensure marketplace competition and protect consumers, but major sports leagues are exempt largely so they can pool broadcast rights.

Blumenthal said this special privilege should no longer be a "blank check."

Lawmakers were quick to press the NFL on the issue of domestic violence after TMZ posted a video this month showing former Baltimore Ravens running back Ray Rice punching his then-fiancee, Janay Palmer, who was knocked unconscious. Rice’s original punishment from the NFL was a two-game suspension, but after the video was released and public outrage grew, the Ravens cut him from the team and the league suspended him indefinitely.

“The nation was shocked by the callus indifference not only by Ray Rice, but by the NFL itself, which has fumbled and failed since the very beginning,” Blumenthal said. “The NFL has a special position of trust. It is one of the most massively influential organizations in America.”

Blumenthal said he hopes Congress holds hearings on the topic and his legislation.