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article imageNFL's domestic violence policy focus of week one spotlight

By Greta McClain     Sep 4, 2014 in Sports
San Francisco - Before the NFL kicks off week 1 of the 2014 season, Commissioner Roger Goodell finds himself answering questions about the league's handling of domestic violence incidents instead of focusing on the upcoming season.
Sunday morning San Jose police responded to a domestic disturbance involving San Francisco 49ers defensive tackle, Ray McDonald, and his pregnant fiancee. Upon arrival, officers reportedly observed bruising on the victim's neck and arms. According to KRON, McDonald was arrested and booked on charges of felony domestic violence. He was later released after posting a $25,000 bond.
The incident sparked speculation into how the league and Goodall would respond to the incident.
Last week the league announced harsher penalties for employees involved in assault, battery, domestic violence or sexual assault incidents. In a letter sent to team owners on August 29, 2014, Goodall said first-time offenders will receive a six-game suspension, and a second offense will result in a lifetime ban. Goodall went on to tell owners that consideration would be “given to mitigating factors” on a first offense, but a suspension of longer than six games also would be possible “when circumstances warrant.” A repeat offender who applies for reinstatement to the league after one year would be given “no presumption or assurance that the petition will be granted.”
San Francisco 49er defensive tackle Ray McDonald
San Francisco 49er defensive tackle Ray McDonald
After attending a youth event Wednesday evening near Seattle Washington, Goodell was asked how he and the league are planning to respond to McDonald's arrest. He responded by telling reporters that the league will allow the legal process to run its course before making a decision on whether or not to suspend McDonald, telling USA Today:
“I think the first thing we have to do is let the process play out, get the facts, and make sure you understand all the circumstances. We don’t (know the facts) right now and we’re obviously following it very closely. But the policy will be applied uniformly across players, coaches, executives, commissioners. I think we made that very clear in the policy.”
Goodell also stated that in order for the league to suspend someone under the new guidelines, the person must not only be charged with assault, but also go through the complete legal process, particularly when a fist time offender is involved.
Jim Harbaugh, head coach for the 49ers agrees with Goodell, while also stating he will not tolerate domestic violence. During his weekly radio show, Harbaugh said:
San Francisco 49ers coach Jim Harbaugh
San Francisco 49ers coach Jim Harbaugh
BrokenSphere / Wikimedia Commons
"There's going to be two principles at play here, and one is, I'll speak for myself, I'll speak for the 49ers, we will not tolerate domestic violence. Second principle is we're firm believers in due process. And I ask for your understanding on those two principles If someone physically abuses a woman and/or physically or mentally abuses or hurts a child, then there's no understanding. There's no tolerance for that."
The 49ers have not announced whether McDonald will be allowed to play in Sunday's game against the Dallas Cowboys. Trent Baalke, general manager for the 49ers, told CSN Bay Area:
"That remains to be seen. We're still in the fact-finding mode, trying to get as much information as we can, and we'll have more knowledge later and certainly more knowledge the next day and moving forward. Nothing has been determined at this point."
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