Chagrined NFL teams bow to pressure on domestic abuse cases

Wed Sep 17, 2014 10:58pm EDT
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By Eric Kelsey and Mary Milliken

(Reuters) - Another National Football League player was arrested on domestic violence allegations hours after two teams succumbed to public pressure and suspended players enmeshed in similar cases on Wednesday.

The charges against Arizona Cardinals running back Jonathan Dwyer of aggravated assault in connection with two alleged incidents of domestic violence in late July come amid intensifying criticism from corporate sponsors and politicians toward America's top sports league.

Earlier on Wednesday, Minnesota Vikings star running back Adrian Peterson and Carolina Panthers defensive end Greg Hardy were both placed by their teams on the so-called "exempt list," meaning they must take a leave of absence while the cases against them are resolved.

In announcing their actions, officials of both the Vikings and the Panthers talked about the need "to get this right."

The two teams' decisions suggest a new tack by owners toward the domestic violence scandal engulfing the 32-team NFL and its commissioner, Roger Goodell.

A flurry of cases, most notably those of Peterson and Ray Rice, the former Baltimore Ravens star who has also been suspended indefinitely by the NFL, has raised questions about the league's integrity and Goodell's leadership.

On Wednesday the level of criticism ratcheted up with the U.S. House of Representatives Democratic leader, Nancy Pelosi, speaking up, and moves by two big corporate sponsors - TD Ameritrade AMTD.N and Nike NKE.N.

Zygi Wilf, who co-owns the Vikings with his brother, Mark, said that they had "made a mistake and we needed to get this right," after they had reactivated Peterson on Monday following his indictment last week on charges of beating his four-year-old son with a branch.   Continued...

Minnesota Vikings running back Adrian Peterson leaves the field after a season-ending loss to the Green Bay Packers in Green Bay, Wisconsin, in this file photo taken January 5, 2013.   REUTERS/Tom Lynn/Files