The NFL has teamed up with No More, a domestic violence and sexual assault organization and Mariska Hargitay's Joyful Heart Foundation to create a new anti-domestic violence PSA campaign to be aired during football games.
The PSA is modeled after last year's Joyful Heart Foundation campaign that featured various celebrities like Amy Poehler, Debra Messing, Ice-T, and Tim Gunn among others. It features NFL players like Eli Manning and Jason Witten, William Gay, and former players like Cris Carter. Like the previous campaign, they pledge to put an end to oft-repeated excuses about domestic violence—"No More 'Boys will be boys,'" "No More 'It's just a women's issue.'"
The PSAs were directed by Mariska Hargitay, Tate Donovan, and Blair Underwood, and are set to premiere during this week's "Thursday Night Football" on CBS. Obviously, airing domestic violence PSAs that feature NFL players during the most popular and profitable television event is a pretty big deal—even if the NFL is only using networks that airing their games to promote their stance. NBC, CBS, and other networks may be taking a stance against domestic violence, but only because the NFL is allowing it.
But just because the NFL has made some progress in addressing its role in our cultural domestic violence problem doesn't mean that it's not, at its core, an image-conscious money making organization with its eye on the bottom line and its partners under its thumb. An upcoming episode of Law and Order: SVU, also on NBC, will feature "an ex-sports star turned reporter accused of assaulting his girlfriend." While clearly inspired by the Ray Rice case, it's not quite the "ripped from the headlines" type of episode SVU is known for. As Jessica Goldstein at Think Progress puts it, the episode is more "'inspired by the headlines and then carefully altered so as not to mess up NBC's relationship with the NFL.'"
In addition to the PSAs, the NFL hired three women to revamp their domestic violence policies, which are set to roll out next month. Lisa Friel, the former head of the New York City District Attorney's sex crimes unit commented on the leagues shortcomings, via Today (which is aired by the the same network that airs Sunday Night Football):
"I think that the league was listening to people,'' Friel told NBC's Peter Alexander in an exclusive interview that aired Wednesday on TODAY. "And they didn't have all the right voices at the table."
Next week, NFL players, coaches, and employees will begin attending education presentations about domestic violence and how to identify it. There's clearly a lot of movement going on in the NFL in response to their utter failure of a response to the Ray Rice case and other domestic violence cases in the NFL.
But it's not like the league is off the hook. All of these new committees and programs won't mean shit unless they actually lead to change, as a means to prevent domestic abuse, and as a proper way to carry out justice in the chance that domestic violence does occur.
Image via the NFL.