Online Program

Off-field violence by NFL players: Comparing consequences issued for domestic violence and assault on women

Monday, November 2, 2015

Irene Taranhike, B.S., MPH candidate, The Brown School of Social Work, Washington University, St. Louis, MO
Jeffrey Wilhite, B.A., MPH candidate, The Brown School of Social Work, Washington University, St. Louis, MO
The popular press have actively covered violence-related scandals involving NFL players.  But few journalistic or scientific investigations have systematically examined the penalties issued to the perpetrators. This study uses statistical analyses to determine whether NFL-imposed penalties differ for players committing assault vs. domestic assault. 


T-tests were used to compare mean fine amounts, game suspensions, and probation time between the two groups, using data from Schrotenboer’s NFL Player Arrest database (2014). Arrests were excluded from analyses if the case had not gone to trial, the player had not been sentenced, the trial was ongoing, or the case was otherwise unresolved. Arrests were included if charges were dropped after the player’s arrest. Fines were calculated by dollar amount and included court-mandated donations; suspensions were calculated per game and probation time was calculated per day.


NFL-imposed penalties were not significantly different for players committing assault vs. domestic assault. On average, fines for assault were $1600 greater than fines for domestic assault.


Despite the NFL’s strong public stance against domestic violence, findings indicate it is penalized at the same rate as other assaults. Given the high profile of its players, the NFL could set a stronger example that domestic violence is unacceptable.

Learning Areas:

Advocacy for health and health education
Planning of health education strategies, interventions, and programs
Public health or related laws, regulations, standards, or guidelines
Public health or related organizational policy, standards, or other guidelines
Public health or related research

Learning Objectives:
Compare penalties for violence against women Identify areas for policy improvement Differentiate between domestic violence and assault Analyze dangers facing women Assess public health hazards facing general population

Keyword(s): Domestic Violence, Women's Health

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I am an MPH student with an interest in domestic violence. I have studied and worked on this project for almost a year now. I have an undergraduate degree in psychology where I focused on the relationship between violence and PTSD. I co-presented these findings in my biostatistics course.
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.