Local domestic violence activists weigh in on new NFL action

Anti-domestic violence activists say the NFL has a rare opportunity to make a difference when it comes to an issue that's got everyone talking.

With Adrian Peterson's re-activation for Sunday's game, some say the time is now to devise a policy that will have an impact and help deal with a problem that's especially bad here in Louisiana.

"They have to have some kind of standard. If it's okay for one, it's not okay for others," said football fan Danielle Dufour.

Ravens running back Ray Rice got a two-week suspension, then was fired for hitting his wife. Adrian Peterson is suspended, then re-activated for whipping his son.

"There were cuts all over the child's leg, and the father admitted he hit the child in the scrotum," said Kim Sport with the Louisiana Domestic Violence Prevention Commission.

The pictures, released by TMZ, have sent shock waves.

FOX 8 reached out to the Montgomery Country, Texas, district attorney to see if the pictures are authentic. The office would not confirm, but it did say their release is illegal and it's now investigating.

"What's at stake for the NFL is their revenue, a decline in their popularity," said Tulane sports law expert Gabe Feldman.

Minnesota's governor denounced Peterson's reinstatement, as local domestic violence advocates called for new NFL policies dealing with athlete role models.

"They are treated as the elitist of the elite in the celebrity world. Unfortunately, they're also taught to be violent on the field," said Sport.

To help deal with the problem, the NFL hired three domestic violence experts to serve as senior advisors, a move the National Organization for Women and Feldman say is the right step.

"It makes a lot of sense for the league to involve outside consultants, but most people in the league have good intentions. But they don't know how to deal with these complicated issues," said Feldman.

While the NFL is taking heat for domestic violence issues, local advocates say the Benson family has been instrumental in bringing about change.

"Behind the scenes [Gail Benson is] a strong advocate," said Sport.

In the 2014 legislative session, Benson was actively involved in the passage of five laws designed to curb a domestic violence problem that has Louisiana ranked as the fourth-worst state in the country.

"If someone is convicted of misdemeanor domestic abuse battery, they are not allowed to possess a firearm for 10 years," said Sport.

Other new laws provide for the arrest of anyone on a restraining order found with a gun.

Activists say the good news is that people are now talking about domestic violence.

"The league has an opportunity to have a positive impact on society," said Feldman.

And Feldman believes the best way to do that is through new league policies that will make disciplinary decisions less arbitrary.

The Peterson case is already having a financial impact on the NFL. The Radisson Hotel company has dropped it's sponsorship of the Minnesota Vikings, the team that reinstated Peterson for Sunday's game against the Saints.

Copyright 2014 WVUE. All rights reserved.