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Lawmakers Ask NFL, NCAA to Campaign Against Domestic Violence

January 25, 1996 GMT

WASHINGTON (AP) _ Citing studies showing a high level of domestic violence among professional and college football players, two lawmakers on Thursday urged the NFL commissioner to launch a national anti-violence campaign.

``Today, we are asking Commissioner (Paul) Tagliabue, in the strongest possible terms, to work with anti-domestic violence groups to develop a multi-faceted strategy,″ said Rep. Bernie Sanders, an independent from Vermont.

Sanders and Rep. Constance Morella, R-Md., in a letter to Tagliabue, referred to several studies that ``have shown that there is a significantly higher prevalence of domestic violence among football players than among the general population.″

``Incidents involving athletes on college campuses, most recently at the University of Nebraska, suggest that violence against women has also become an unsavory aspect of university life,″ Morella said. ``And that is why as we approach Super Bowl Sunday, we hope that the NFL can join us in our efforts at public education.″

NFL Communications Director Greg Aiello said the league would respond to the letter after the Super Bowl.

The letter also was sent to Cedric Dempsey, executive director of the NCAA.

One investigation by the Washington Post showed that between the Jan. 1, 1989, incident that led to O.J. Simpson pleading no contest to spousal battery and November 1994, 140 other current and former pro and college football athletes were reported to police for violent behavior toward women.

Forty-three of the men accused of domestic violence were active NFL players at the time, it said.

The lawmakers also cited another study by Northeastern University and the University of Massachusetts at Amherst that found that male student-athletes comprised 3.3 percent of the population at 10 large universities but represented 19 percent of the men accused of sexual assault from 1991 to 1993.

The letter applauded the NFL for its work in fighting drug and alcohol abuse, but said the failure of the league to punish such players as Minnesota Vikings quarterback Warren Moon, who allegedly assaulted his wife last summer, ``sends an insidious and harmful message to many Americans.″

The lawmakers said it would be a great public service if the NFL, starting on Super Bowl Sunday, sponsored advertisements ``in which NFL stars help spread the word that real men don’t beat up women, and domestic violence is inexcusable.″