De Blasio: NFL has to do better on domestic abuse, penalties should be greater than for steroid use

The decision-makers for the National Football League “have to do better” when it comes to domestic violence, according to New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio.

De Blasio, a Democrat, spoke with Fusion’s Jorge Ramos on Thursday about how the NFL has handled domestic violence amid public backlash over the case of former Baltimore Ravens running back Ray Rice. Earlier this month, TMZ released a video showing Rice punch his then-fiancée, Janay Palmer, in the face and knocking her out in Atlantic City this February.

“It’s interesting how sports sometimes allow us to have a conversation we don’t have otherwise,” he said. “We have to grapple with the fact that domestic violence is fairly pervasive in our society. We can’t keep ignoring it.”

De Blasio said that the NFL is only “the latest institution in our society to be shown to be looking the other way” when it comes to domestic violence. “A lot of government agencies have dumbed down the numbers and ignore the problem,” he said.

De Blasio said that New York City is putting out domestic violence statistics “more honestly.”

The mayor said that if the NFL is willing to institute a stringent policy against performance-enhancing drugs, it should also be able to reign in acts of physical abuse.

“If you’ve committed an act of domestic violence, you should have much greater penalties than if you used a banned substance,” he said.