NFL’s New Violence Policy Must Also Protect Animals, Says PETA

Players Who Harm Any Vulnerable Individual Should Be Out of the NFL

For Immediate Release:
September 18, 2014

Alexis Sadoti 202-483-7382

As the NFL prepares to develop and implement new domestic violence and sexual assault policies, PETA has a recommendation: Don’t ignore and fail to address players who have committed violent acts of cruelty to animals. In a letter sent to NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell this morning, PETA—whose motto reads, in part, that “animals are not ours to abuse in any way”—points out that because of the well-established link between violence against animals and violence against spouses and children, a zero-tolerance policy for violence against any living being is critical.

“Violence is violence, no matter who the victim is, and anyone who is abusing an animal is letting off a flare signaling that his or her aggression is out of control,” says PETA President Ingrid Newkirk. “PETA is calling on the NFL to embrace the common-sense idea that bullying and abusing anyone is unacceptable and will result in repercussions.”

The NFL hired a new group to develop the revised program in response to the widespread outcry over a slew of violent incidents involving NFL players, including Ray Rice, who was caught on video punching his now-wife in an elevator; Adrian Peterson, who beat his son with a switch hard enough to leave marks; and Greg Hardy, who was convicted of domestic violence against an ex-girlfriend.

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PETA’s letter to NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell follows.


September 18, 2014


Roger Goodell
National Football League


Dear Mr. Goodell:

I’m writing on behalf of People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) and our more than 3 million members and supporters, many of whom are fans of the NFL. As you reassess and strengthen your policy for disciplining players accused of violent assaults, we urge you to be especially vigilant for and intolerant of acts of cruelty to animals.

NFL fans have made it abundantly clear that they will not support players who abuse others and that they want the league to take decisive action in order to keep violent athletes off the football field. Swiftly and harshly disciplining any player who abuses an animal must be a core component of any new anti-violence policy since cruelty to animals is not only a violent crime, in and of itself, but also a predictor of violence to humans. In fact, the National District Attorneys Associationstates that taking “animal abuse as seriously as crimes against humans is important” and that when “any form of violence is present in a home, others may be at risk.” According to the Association of Prosecuting Attorneys, 76 percentof people who abuse animals also abuse a family member, and the American Psychiatric Associationidentifies cruelty to animals as one of the diagnostic criteria for conduct disorders.

Just as players who beat children or hit their partners have no place on the gridiron, players who hurt animals must be prevented from representing the NFL. Violence is violence, no matter who the victim is, and anyone who abuses an animal is likely to abuse a family member, too. Football players are supposed to be role models, so it’s critical for the league to do its part to prevent violence by sending its millions of fans the lifesaving message that bullying and abusing anyone is unacceptable.

Thank you for your consideration.

Very truly yours,

Ingrid E. Newkirk

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