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Roger Goodell won't admit the NFL has a domestic violence problem

(Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)

Friday afternoon, after coming under increasingly heavy criticism for the NFL's handling of the Ray Rice case and other player transgressions, Roger Goodell made a speech.

In it, he admitted he "got it wrong" when leading the investigation of Ray Rice, vowed to "get it right," and announced several changes to the league's personal conduct policies.

One thing he did not say: that the NFL has a domestic violence problem.

Ray Rice is not the first NFL player to assault a woman. The problem has gone on for years, with players who commit domestic violence facing little or no discipline.

And while NFL players, overall, have lower arrest rates than the average group of American men aged 25 to 49, there's one crime for which this is less true than all others: domestic violence. Here's a chart, from FiveThirtyEight's Benjamin Morris:

nfl domestic violence


When looking at these statistics, keep in mind that NFL players are many times wealthier than the sample group of American men in comparison. This affects crime rates, and needs to be taken into account when analyzing the data.

Morris also calculated that for women who are part of households with more than $75,000 in income (a number far outstripped by the earnings of all NFL players), rates of domestic violence were 39 percent of the total rates for all women. That means that if you were to compare NFL players to others in the same economic class, they'd commit domestic violence far more often than the average man. The NFL has a domestic violence problem.

Ray Rice is not the first NFL player to assault a woman. Since 2000, 83 players have been arrested for doing so — and countless more have committed violence that went entirely unreported.

In his speech, Goodell noted that domestic violence is a society-wide problem that affects people in every economic class and ethnic group. This is undoubtedly true.

But Goodell refused to acknowledge that the NFL is a source of this problem — not merely a consequence of it.

Watch: It's dangerous to be a woman in America

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