NEW YORK (AP) — Responding to increasing criticism that the league has not acted quickly or emphatically enough concerning domestic abuse cases involving players, the NFL is partnering with a domestic violence hotline and a sexual violence resource center.
Commissioner Roger Goodell sent a memo to the clubs late Thursday announcing the partnerships. The league will provide financial, operational and promotional support to the National Domestic Violence Hotline and the National Sexual Violence Resource Center.
"These commitments will enable both the hotline and NSVRC to help more people affected by domestic violence and sexual assault," Goodell said in the memo.
Goodell scheduled a news conference for Friday to discuss the NFL's personal conduct policies.
The commissioner and some NFL teams have been heavily criticized for lenient or delayed punishment of Ray Rice, Adrian Peterson and other players involved in recent domestic violence cases. Less than three weeks into the season, five such cases have made headlines, the others involving Greg Hardy, Ray McDonald and Jonathan Dwyer.
Vikings star running back Peterson, Carolina defensive end Hardy and Arizona running back Dwyer are on a special commissioner's exemption list and are being paid while they go through the legal process. McDonald, a defensive end for San Francisco, continues to practice and play while being investigated on suspicion of domestic violence.
As these cases have come to light, such groups as the National Organization of Women and league partners and sponsors have come down hard on the NFL to be more responsive in dealing with them. Congress also is watching to see how the NFL reacts.
The National Domestic Violence Hotline provides domestic violence victims and survivors access to a national network of resources and shelters. It is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week in 170 languages. Goodell noted that the hotline received 84 percent more calls from Sept. 8-15, and the organization said more than 50 percent of those calls went unanswered because of lack of staff.
"The hotline will add 25 full-time advocates over the next few weeks that will result in an additional 750 calls a day being answered," he said.
NSVRC supports sexual violence coalitions across the United States. The NFL's initial support will be directed toward state coalitions to provide additional resources to sexual assault hotlines.