Monday, January 26, 2015

Report: NFL mulling stronger penalties for domestic violence

WITH CRITICISM of the NFL'S handling of Ray Rice's discipline still fresh, the Washington Post reported that the league is contemplating strengthening penalties for players who commit acts of domestic violence.

According to sources, the Post said the new policy could set suspensions of four to six games without pay for a first offense and potentially a seasonlong ban for a second offense.

"We need to have stricter penalties," one person with knowledge of the league's deliberations told the Post. "I think you will see that. I believe the commissioner and others would like to see stricter penalties. We need to be more vigilant."

The changes, if implemented, would come in the wake of backlash the league and commissioner Roger Goodell received after announcing a two-game suspension for Rice late last month.

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The Ravens running back was arrested Feb. 15, after he allegedly struck then-fiancée Janay Palmer during an altercation at an Atlantic City hotel. Video surfaced online showing Rice dragging an apparently unconscious Palmer out of an elevator. The couple has since married.

Earlier this month, Goodell said that the league must remain consistent in its punishment and that Rice's suspension was in line with previous penalties under similar circumstances.

Rice's suspension was criticized as lenient compared with other suspensions issued by the league for substance abuse and off-field incidents.



* Browns rookie quarterback Johnny Manziel has made a strong impression with his work ethic since training camp began, but suffered his first slip Monday when he was a few minutes late for a team meeting, reported.

Manziel's tardiness was not a factor in coach Mike Pettine's decision to start Brian Hoyer in this coming Monday night's game against the Redskins, sources said. Pettine handled the matter "internally" with the players but did not overdramatize the issue, sources said.

* After an absence of nearly 3 weeks for undisclosed personal reasons, 36-year-old outside linebacker John Abraham arrived at Cardinals training camp. He was arrested in suburban Atlanta in late June on a drunken-driving charge. Last week, in a statement released by the team, he apologized to his family, friends, the Cardinals and his fans "for letting them down."

The five-time Pro Bowl player is the NFL's active career sacks leader with 133 1/2 and ranks ninth on the league's all-time list.

* Former Patriots player Aaron Hernandez was excused from a pre-trial hearing in his Boston double homicide case. The Suffolk County Superior Court hearing consisted mainly of both sides conferring at length with the judge out of hearing range from the courtroom audience.

Hernandez, who was recently transferred to a Boston jail to be closer to his lawyers, is next due to appear in court on the Boston murder charges on Oct. 21. The two sides are expected to discuss evidence suppression and other pretrial issues in preparation for a May 28 trial.

Hernandez has pleaded not guilty to murder in the deaths of Daniel de Abreu and Safiro Furtado after one of them apparently spilled a drink on him in a nightclub.

Hernandez also pleaded not guilty to a murder charge in the 2013 slaying of Odin Lloyd, a semi-professional football player whose bullet-ridden body was found in an industrial park near Hernandez's North Attleborough home. Lloyd had been dating the sister of Hernandez's fiancee. The trial in that case is scheduled for October.

* Five-time Pro Bowl defensive end Jared Allen is set to make his first appearance for the Bears after missing last week's preseason opener against the Eagles because his wife was having a baby.

* At court in Minnesota struck down an NFL policy preventing off-duty police officers from bringing their guns to Vikings games. Two police organizations challenged the rule, arguing that NFL policy cannot trump state law. The ruling applies only in Minnesota.

Spokesman Greg Aiello said the NFL will continue to enforce the ban at TCF Bank Stadium, as the court order allows, until the matter is resolved.

* Prosecutors in Miami dropped battery and disorderly conduct charges against Rams linebacker Jo-Lonn Dunbar in a fight outside a South Beach nightclub.

Dunbar and NBA free agent Donte Green were charged following a July 20 altercation outside the Dream nightclub. The charges are still pending against Green. Dunbar had claimed he was only defending himself.


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