While the former Baltimore Ravens running back Ray Rice scandal became a household name, other similar and more egregious crimes committed by NFL players seemed to have fallen off the radar.

FUMBLE! The Greg Hardy domestic violence case is a good example. Last July, the Carolina Panthers defensive end was convicted by a judge of assaulting and threatening to kill his ex-girlfriend.

Despite this conviction, the Panther’s general manager indicated at a press conference that the Hardy was not going to be suspended. The outrage that followed, which culminated in major sponsors making comments about the issue, finally convinced the NFL to take action. NFL commissioner Roger Goodell put Hardy on the Exempt list. This means he can’t practice or play, but he will continue to earn his weekly portion of his salary… which is roughly $700,000. Not really an adequate punishment given his crime.

The good news is that through all of this media attention, scrutiny and being convicted of poor judgement in the court of public option, all of this has led to much needed positive changes.

RECOVERY! As of August of last year, Goodell changed the Code of Conduct to reflect a more stringent policy about perpetrating any acts of violence and a new initiative for the NFL. A first time offense will earn a player a six game suspension without pay. The second offense and the player is banned for life. Now, they CAN reapply to get their job back after a year, but it’s a good start. They’ve hired whip-smart, Manhattan based veteran sex crimes prosecutor Lisa Friel to help them shape their new policies. The NFL also began offering anonymous awareness education given by Deana Garner who is the director of player engagement and education.

In addition, the NFL has spent millions collaborating with nomore.org producing compelling domestic violence PSA’s that are as effective as they are timely. The spot that aired during the Superbowl was a haunting reminder of the terror that many women live with every day.

 

They also produced a YouTube spot in which 22 current and retired NFL greats donated their time to participate. Both of these are part of a larger campaign aimed at raising awareness and ending domestic violence and rape.

 

Watching these changes unfold is a good reminder of how if enough voices are brought together, they can effect movement in the direction of equality. Although the Trickle Down model didn’t work for economics, it sure works great when it comes to leadership.

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