I love the National Football League. Some of my greatest childhood memories include spending Sunday afternoons with my father watching football. I will always be a fan of the NFL.
The NFL has been in the forefront of the domestic violence, sexual assault conversation for the last five months.
The purpose of this letter is to suggest two additional changes the NFL could make to show their ever-growing commitment to raising awareness for domestic violence prevention.
Dec. 5, the league announced steps that would be taken to help make an impact in the league and in the community, including:
In the NFL
Education and Individual Support
Supporting Leading Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault Awareness and Prevention Groups
Forming Critical Response Teams
Updated Personal Conduct Policy
In the community
Driving the Conversation Around Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault
Promoting Programs that Develop the Character of Young People
The changes listed above will have an impact on players, coaches and owners, but a majority of the impact will not been seen by the public.
As commissioner, I’m sure you and your staff have spent countless hours deciding how the NFL should handle this sensitive topic.
Mr. Goodell, is there more that could be done?
As a loyal fan of the NFL, I propose a visible change must be made to prove that you and the league are truly committed to change.
Dante Cano wrote you a letter in 2012 and proposed a simple, visible change that helped the NFL take the “A Crucial Catch” campaign to the next level.
“My name is Dante Cano,” he wrote. “I am 11 years old and I am from Marlboro, New Jersey. I wanted to know if you could use my idea of pink penalty flags in October for breast cancer awareness. Please write back.”
Mr. Goodell, you responded to Cano’s letter by implementing the pink penalty flags.
The NFL made a visible change beyond its normal efforts to prove their commitment to raising breast cancer awareness.
Breast cancer awareness is important. Families are affected daily, and we need to continue to raise awareness for this great cause, but who is talking about domestic violence.
Domestic violence is a silent crime. Those hurt the most might not even talk about it.
According to domesticviolencestatistics.org, between 55 and 95 percent of women who have been physically abused never contact police, shelters or other organizations for help.
The NFL should be an example and give hope to those suffering.
Purple is the color used to represent domestic violence awareness.
I propose that beginning Week 1 of the 2015-2016 NFL season, purple penalty flags replace the yellow flags currently used.
Last season, pink penalty flags were used up till Week 5, but due to color confusion during game broadcasts, it was discontinued.
Though purple is not the brightest color, it is the principle that matters.
I do admit, this might be an over simplification of a larger issue, and changing the color of the flags will not prevent domestic violence.
The NFL is the most popular sports organization in the United States. The NFL needs to use that popularity to do more than just raise awareness.
An article on thinkprogress.org, titled, “Rethinking the NFL’s Pink Breast Cancer Campaign,” suggests that raising awareness is more than just players wearing pink.
“The pink campaigns also seem to paper over what exactly we need to be aware of,” according to the Think Progess article. “. . . What we need to be aware of is the fact that mammograms are hard to get for uninsured women, that cheap providers like Planned Parenthood are being shut down, that for all the ‘awareness’ we see, there still isn’t a cure and there is still a long way to go in the fight to find one. Seeing pink gloves and pink towels on a football field isn’t enough to make any of that clear.”
The NFL is not fully responsible to find a solution to every issue; however, where there is room to do more, what other steps might be taken?
According to a recent Harris Poll, 32 percent of Americans consider the NFL to be the best professional sports league in the nation.
According to Nielsen data, Super Bowl XLIX was the most-watched TV program in United States history.
When Cano sent you his letter proposing pink flags, you invited him to the game to give the flags to the referees.
I propose that during each game using the domestic violence awareness flags, the home team invite a member of the community who has dealt with domestic violence to participate in the opening coin toss.
This will celebrate a life that was victorious, even when life seemed too hard.
This will give hope to the hopeless.
Mr. Goodell, the NFL is in a position to change the world.
As a fan, I will tune in each Sunday regardless of the color of the flags.
My purpose in sending this letter is to invite you to make visible changes in the league’s domestic violence awareness campaigns to show your office and league is committed to truly making a change.
I respect the work you do. I know your job is difficult, and I believe you are a great man. You are the right person for the job.