By RYAN GORMAN
The National Football League will begin funding and promoting domestic and sexual violence outreach and support programs as part of a broad sweeping initiative launched in response to recent player-involved incidents, Commissioner Roger Goodell announced in a Thursday memo to teams.
The league will provide long-term financial, operational and promotional support to the National Domestic Violence Hotline (The Hotline) and the National Sexual Violence Resource Center, Goodell wrote. It will also begin mandatory domestic and sexual violence educational sessions for all league executives, staff, coaches and players.
Goodell's memo comes as growing pressure is mounting for him to publicly speak about the controversy surrounding many players including former Baltimore Ravens running back Ray Rice and Minnesota Vikings running back Adrian Peterson. It was posted to Facebook by ESPN reporter Adam Schefter.
The league's action came after it was revealed The Hotline received 84 percent more calls last week but was able to answer less than half, said the commissioner.
"That must not continue," Goodell insisted, adding that "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."
The NSVRC's "Loveisrespect" chat service will soon be able to provide 24-hour-a-day text chats for young adults affected by dating abuse, according to the memo. Other support from the league will be distributed at the state level to ensure more effective outreach at the local level.
Players, coaches, staff and executives – every single person employed by the league – will soon be mandated to attend "broad educational programs" within the next 30 days addressing the league's growing domestic and sexual violence problem, Goodell said.
"These initial sessions will begin to provide the men and women of the NFL with information and tools to understand and recognize domestic violence and sexual assault," said the commissioner.
Teams will begin receiving comprehensive information about domestic and sexual violence resources in their communities. Goodell did not mention if further information would be sent to spouses of those employed the league.
Additional training programs will be developed in the coming months as the league unveils other initiatives aimed at bringing awareness to what many feel has so far been a problem largely ignored by teams and executives.
"We will continue to work with experts to expand and develop long-term programs that raise awareness, educate, and prevent domestic violence and sexual assault both within the NFL and in our society in general."
There was no indication in the memo that Goodell would speak publicly about these initiatives. He has not made any public statements since last week.
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