U.S. activists keep domestic violence in Super Bowl spotlight

Thu Jan 29, 2015 1:25pm EST
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By Daniel Wallis

PHOENIX (Reuters) - As fans gather for Sunday's Super Bowl in Arizona, billboard trucks are expected to travel around Phoenix with messages reminding revelers of what critics see as an inadequate NFL response to domestic violence involving star NFL players.

Dispatched by an anti-sexism group to the airport, hotels and other venues, the trucks will bear slogans including "55 Cases of Domestic Violence Unanswered" and call for commissioner Roger Goodell to resign.

"Plain and simple: The NFL doesn't have the leadership to fix their violence against women problem, and Goodell needs to go for that to change," said Nita Chaudhary, cofounder of the group UltraViolet, which claims Goodell has ignored 55 incidents of domestic violence involving NFL players.

The NFL has faced criticism for its handling of domestic violence after Baltimore Ravens running back Ray Rice knocked out his then-fiancee in an elevator. Rice last year was first suspended for two games and later suspended indefinitely.

The initial punishment drew fire for being too soft. That criticism has echoed in Phoenix ahead of the Super Bowl between the New England Patriots and the Seattle Seahawks, even as the most popular U.S. sports league continues to court female fans.

"The NFL is big business, I get that," said Pat Riegel, a Philadelphia woman who flew to Phoenix for the Super Bowl with a fellow female Eagles fan.

"But you can't cover up something like that," she said. "They probably could've done a bit better ... In the end they did, but they were pressured."


Denver Broncos fans react to a turnover as they watch their team's NFL Super Bowl XLVIII against the Seattle Seahawks at LoDo's Bar and Grill in Denver, Colorado in this February 2, 2014 file photo.  REUTERS/Marc Piscotty/Files