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NFLPA raises concerns over NFL domestic violence training

A memo from the NFL Players Association obtained by SB Nation outlined a number of concerns with the league's domestic violence training program for players and personnel.

Noah K. Murray-USA TODAY Sports

The NFL Players Association is concerned that the league's proposed domestic violence training program does not go far enough in addressing, identifying and preventing domestic violence, sexual assault and child abuse. SB Nation obtained a copy of a memo sent from Teri Patterson, deputy managing director and special counsel to the NFLPA, to all player representatives and executive committee members outlining the specific concerns.

The memo states that the NFL opted to develop its training program without recommendations from the NFLPA Commission, a group of subject matter experts and representatives assembled by the union. NFL representatives met with the commission on Oct. 21 to review the league's training and education program for all personnel, and voiced unease that the program immediately treated players as perpetrators.

The commission recommended that the program focus on character building; fostering respect among men, women and children; bolstering values and laying out the obligations of parenthood, spouses and partners. The current program is instead "laden with information about criminal penalties and statistics for perpetrators of such crimes," according to the memo.

The commission also reportedly expressed concern that the NFL's program does not focus enough on preventing domestic violence before it happens, including the potential psychological information or warning signs that suggest that a person is at risk to commit an act of violence. According to the memo, the league's program focused much more on what would happen to players after they committed an act of violence.

The NFLPA Commission also questioned the league's ability to bring in qualified trainers to run the program. Though the NFL said it would bring in "experts" to lead presentations, it has not yet provided the NFLPA with a list of names. This was disconcerting to the commission based on the league's track record, per the memo:

The Union pointed out that their previous efforts of using non-qualified trainers to teach workplace standards resulted in "spotty and uneven" programs from club to club as some of those training efforts were good and others were poor.

The memo expressed the same concern about former players brought in the participate in the program. The NFLPA didn't question that some former players are qualified to lead discussion, but the NFL has still yet to release their names.

The NFLPA Commission has also suggested that a broader range of resources be made available to players, including "faith-based counselors and male-focused community organizations, etc." The NFL has promised to provide a list of local domestic violence resources at each presentation featuring "domestic violence and sexual assault prevention specialists, licensed Club mental health clinicians, Club human resource directors and Directors of Player Engagement."

The memo's final point concerned players' ability to ask questions during presentations. The NFL has promised to allow time for players to ask questions, but the NFLPA Commission recommended that players be able to submit questions beforehand so that they could be addressed anonymously.