After his much-criticized handling of the Ray Rice case five years ago, National Football League Commissioner Roger Goodell apologized and promised to “do more” when it comes to domestic violence. He followed up with an updated conduct policy that gives league officials broad authority to mete out punishment, even when law enforcement is not involved. The policy became the cornerstone of the league’s reform efforts, and it applies to all team and league employees. NFL coaches have not faced the same pre-employment scrutiny as players, reports USA Today, giving credence to critics who say the NFL’s efforts on domestic violence are little more than a public relations campaign.
USA Today conducted background checks on the 700 coaches listed on NFL team websites in the 2018-19 season, then obtained public records for alleged violent incidents that warranted further review. The effort showed red flags in the history of former Tampa Bay Buccaneers assistant coach Skyler Fulton and three other coaches. Former Bucs’ assistant defensive line coach Paul Spicer twice faced petitions for orders of protection in 2005 and 2008 while he was a player for Jacksonville. Oakland Raiders strength and conditioning assistant Rick Slate was the subject of at least five orders of protection and was arrested three times in domestic disputes, though charges were dropped. Jacksonville Jaguars linebackers coach Mark Collins allegedly made a female team contractor fear for her safety as their relationship was ending, according to a petition for an order of protection the woman filed. NFL spokesman Brian McCarthy put the onus on the teams and said the NFL does not get involved in vetting coaches.