Former NFL player Trent Richardson has been arrested for domestic violence, topping a list of nearly 30 players who have been charged with the crime.
The 26-year-old running back was jailed on Friday with a $1,000 bond and is charged with misdemeanor domestic violence. According to Alabama police, Richardson and an unnamed woman had argued at a Walgreens and then, later, at a hotel. Inside, a woman was found with scratches on her face and was treated by paramedics.
Richardson is the latest in a long line of NFL players involved in domestic violence. In 2015, Josh Brown, then a kicker for the New York Giants, was arrested for assaulting his ex-wife (he wasn’t charged). In 2014, Ray Rice, a running back for the Baltimore Ravens, was cut from the team after video emerged of him punching his ex-fiancée in the elevator of a casino. Carolina Panthers defensive end Greg Hardy was found guilty for assaulting his ex-girlfriend in 2014 (then had the charges dismissed); in 2013, Robert Sands of the Cincinnati Bengals was arrested for fourth-degree domestic assault after allegedly assaulting his wife; in 2010, Dolphins defensive end Phillip Merling was arrested for allegedly hitting his pregnant ex-girlfriend on her head (the charges were dropped when she didn’t testify).
The NFL has a murky past when it comes to intervening in domestic violence cases — sometimes suspending players for several games, other times allowing them to continue playing, all depending on the details of each case. And it’s faced plenty of criticism for its inconsistent policies, most notably, per NBC, for allowing Hardy to continue playing solely because he was appealing his guilty verdict. It was only after the arrest of Rice — whom the NFL first suspended for two games, then cut after video surfaced of the assault — that the NFL took a hard line on the issue: a six-game unpaid ban on players who violated the league’s stance on domestic violence. If a player were involved in a second incident, he would be banned for life.
“I didn’t get it right. Simply put, we have to do better. And we will,” commissioner Roger Goodell wrote in a letter to all NFL owners in August 2014. However, according to the Huffington Post, the mea culpa wasn’t genuine — per the league’s Personal Conduct Policy, Goodell always had the authority to bestow any punishment he pleased, and the language of the revised policy left too much room for him to interpret each case as he wished. The NFL faced further backlash after it suspended Brown for only one game, citing lack of information about his case, despite the accessibility of public records.
In 2014, a group of Democrats sent a letter to Goodell demanding a “zero-tolerance policy” regarding the league’s policy on domestic violence. And a women’s advocacy group called for his dismissal.
Clinical psychologist John F. Murray, who has written books on the psychology of football, told Newsday that same year, “The NFL has enormous power to influence society. A lot of this stuff goes on all the time, and it’s hidden. But the NFL has an extraordinary power base, and they can help everyone by drawing attention to the problem.”