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Bipartisan Quartet Ratchets Up Congressional Pressure on NFL

Costa and three House members are upping the pressure on sports leagues. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Congressional pressure for the NFL and other major sports leagues to get a handle on domestic violence continues to ratchet up.  

A week after one senator proposed stripping the National Football League of its antitrust exemptions , a bipartisan quartet of House members is circulating a petition calling for football, baseball, hockey, soccer and basketball executives to review policies and take "the strongest possible stance" against violence directed at women and children.  

The group — Jim Costa, D-Calif.; Ted Poe, R-Texas; Carolyn B. Maloney, D-N.Y.; and Vicky Hartzler, R-Mo. — is asking colleagues to sign the petition by Friday. So far, 13 other lawmakers are on board, including Rep. Steve Cohen, D-Tenn.; Rep. Suzan DelBene, D-Wash.; Rep. Sam Farr, D-Calif.; Rep. Trent Franks, R-Ariz.; Rep. Ann McLane Kuster, D-N.H.; Rep. Barbara Lee, D-Calif.; Rep. Sander M. Levin, D-Mich.; Rep. Jim McGovern, D-Mass.; Rep. James P. Moran, D-Va.; Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton, D-D.C.; Rep. Tim Ryan, D-Ohio; Rep. Louise M. Slaughter, D-N.Y.; and Rep. Jackie Walorski, R-Ind.  

In an email calling for members to join the petition, the quartet included copies of the letters that will be sent to the commissioners of each league. Here's the letter going to the NFL's Roger Goodell:  

Dear Commissioner Goodell As Members of Congress committed to advocating for victims and survivors of crime, we call on the National Football League (NFL) to take a strong stand to prevent and respond effectively to domestic violence, sexual assault, child abuse, and all violent crimes.  As you know, recent allegations of professional athletes committing these heinous crimes have resulted in an important national dialogue about violence against women and children in America. The truth of the matter is that domestic violence, sexual assault, and abuse are daily, painful realities for many women and children across our nation. When these vicious crimes are not properly addressed and when offenders are not held accountable, the cycles of violence continue, victims remain in constant jeopardy and fear, and the very lives of women and children are at stake. We urge you in the strongest possible terms to use your profound platform to move our society toward a future where violence against women and children is not acceptable. This begins by conducting a full review of the NFL’s policies regarding domestic violence, sexual assault, and child abuse. During such a review, we urge you to meet with crime victims and survivors, experts in the field of victims’ rights, and victim advocates, who are eager to assist you. By ensuring that the NFL’s policies and practices take the strongest possible stand against these crimes, everyone in America will understand that no one who commits violence against women and children can get away with it. The late Coach Vince Lombardi said, “The achievements of an organization are the results of the combined effort of each individual.” When the NFL’s leadership, management and players join together to combat violence against women and children in America, the ultimate achievement will be a nation where it is simply no longer tolerated.    

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