The NFL on Friday published its presentation on domestic violence and sexual assault that officials said was shown to everyone on league and team payrolls.
The NFL said they chose to publish the presentation "to more broadly educate others outside the league about domestic violence, child abuse and sexual assault."
In Fall of 2014, nearly everyone in the NFL, including some family members, participated in broad-based domestic violence (DV), child abuse (CA), and sexual assault (SA) education. Mandatory for all league and club office personnel, owners, coaches, and players and available to and highly encouraged for friends, family members, and loved ones, the education sessions were conducted at all 32 clubs, all US based league offices and the NFL's offices in Canada and the United Kingdom. The following webinar was created for those who could not attend in person and is the same presentation in a digital format.
The 26-minute presentation attempts to convey the seriousness of domestic, sexual, and child abuse through education, clarification of misperceptions, and personal anecdotes.
The presentation, by NFL Director of Player Engagement and Education Deana Garner and Director of Transition and Clinical Services (and former Miami Dolphins linebacker) Dwight Hollier, is thorough and the league's decision to release it stands in sharp contrast to the scrambling and shortsightedness the league has displayed in its handling of these same issues in the past.
Garner sums up the presentation's intent by saying, "some are part of the problem, all must be part of the solution."
During a segment called "Signs and Escalation," Garner says: "The question we should be asking ourself is: 'Why does the violence occur, and what can we do to intervene?' Not, 'Why does she stay?'"
Steelers cornerback William Gay, whose mother's death was caused by domestic violence, offers a moving account of his own experiences with coping with his loss. He says he struggled with trusting others and felt robbed of the opportunity to be raised by his mother.
The presentation's definition of domestic violence is well-considered, making note of the important distinction that violence can be "a repeated pattern of intimidating behavior to gain power and control," and is not limited to physical abuse.
Statistics included in the domestic violence portion of the presentation show the impact of violence on witnesses and family members along with victims.
There's a much shorter segment on the definition of child abuse and the effects on its victims – a sadly relevant topic in the wake of charges brought against Minnesota Vikings running back Adrian Peterson for injuries he allegedly inflicted to his son.
The definition of sexual assault includes a distinction between "physical force" and "physical or verbal intimidation."
It's clear that one of the league's priorities in developing this presentation was to clarify and educate players and personnel on the issues beyond common misperceptions about what it means to be abusive and be abused.
Hollier also explains how sexting can be abusive when images are received or distributed without consent.
Despite the change in culture the league is seeking, players with histories of domestic and sexual violence are still finding homes in the league:
* Former Carolina Panther Greg Hardy who allegedly assaulted his girlfriend (and had charges dropped when she mysteriously refused to cooperate with the case) is reportedly being courted by up to six teams during this free agency period.
* Former Florida State University quarterback Jameis Winston, who was accused of raping a woman in 2012, is expected to be the number-one overall pick in the 2015 draft. He was reportedly granted a one-on-one visit with Commissioner Roger Goodell to discuss the allegations and his goals for the future.
* Winston's luxury was not afforded to Ray Rice's wife Janay when the couple met with the league.
Included in the presentation is a downloadable PDF with numbers for the National Domestic Violence Hotline, the National Sexual Assault Hotline, and other resources for support. A link to the NFL Life Line website is included, which offers "confidential support for the entire NFL family."
it's evident that those tasked with making the presentation were aware of how serious of the culture of violence is in the league. In an introduction, Seattle Seahawks head coach Pete Carroll says he understands "the role that the league has in the social setting," and the responsibility the league has to effect positive change.
The question that remains is whether this culture of understanding and education will be adopted in the ranks of of NFL executives and coaches.