Washington — Two members of Congress asked NFL commissioner Roger Goodell on Tuesday to clarify whether teams can have draft picks taken away if they do not properly address domestic violence.
In a letter sent to Goodell, Sen. Brian Schatz, a Democrat from Hawaii, and Rep. Jackie Speier, a Democrat from California, wrote: "We urge you to create accountability at all levels of the NFL, particularly among team owners, who have the most direct financial incentives to avoid long-term suspensions and quickly get players back on the field."
The letter noted the league has docked clubs draft picks in the past, such as when the Saints were investigated for a bounty system and when the Patriots were caught videotaping an opponent's sideline signals.
"We support this potential disciplinary action as a significant indication that the NFL takes these issues very seriously and intends to hold teams responsible for allowing cultures of violence and abuse," Schatz and Speier wrote.
NFL officials did not respond immediately to a request for comment.
Domestic violence became a major topic of discussion during last season for the NFL because of a series of cases involving players, notably former Ravens running back Ray Rice.
He punched his then-fiancee — now wife — in a casino elevator and originally was suspended for two games by Goodell, a punishment widely criticized as too lenient. When video of what Rice did emerged, Goodell changed it to an indefinite suspension. Eventually, though, that second punishment was erased by an arbitrator when Rice appealed.
During a Senate Commerce Committee hearing in December about domestic violence in pro sports, lawmakers — including Schatz — pressed representatives of the NFL, NBA, NHL and Major League Baseball and their players' unions on matters such as whether they conduct their own investigations into episodes of domestic violence, independent of police; whether coaches or other team personnel are required to report instances of illegal conduct to law enforcement; and what sort of help is provided for abuse victims.
None of the four leagues' commissioners was present at that hearing.
A federal government decision to cancel the Redskins trademark because it might be disparaging infringes on free-speech rights and unfairly singles the team out, attorneys argued in papers filed Monday.
Team officials want to overturn a decision last year by the Trademark Trial and Appeal Board to cancel the trademark on the grounds that it may be offensive to Native Americans.
But the team's attorneys say the law barring registration of disparaging trademarks is unconstitutional under the First Amendment.
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