Military Reviews its NFL Relationships Following Abuse Scandals

U.S. Army Chief of Staff Gen. Raymond T. Odierno and NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell discuss mild traumatic brain injuries and concussions in an Aug. 30 panel between U.S. Army leaders and NFL officials. (DVIDS)

Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel has asked for a review of the connections between the military and the National Football League following the scandals over the arrests of players for domestic and child abuse, the Pentagon said Friday.

"The secretary wants to get a sense of the scope of the interaction" between the Defense Department and the NFL, said Rear Adm. John Kirby, the Pentagon press secretary.

A spotlight has been placed on NFL players' off-field behavior since a video was released of former Baltimore Raves running back Ray Rice punching his wife in an elevator. A few days later Minnesota Vikings running back Adrian Peterson was arrested for child abuse charges after he admitted to striking his 4-year-old child with a tree branch. Thursday, an Arizona Cardinals running back was arrested for head butting his wife and throwing a shoe at his 18-month-old son.

Kirby stressed that Hagel had not asked for a formal investigation on the connections with a possible view to severing ties with the NFL. However, he said "we have high expectations of the organizations with whom we partner."

NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell is scheduled to hold a press conference to discuss the NFL's stance on domestic and child abuse at 3 p.m. on Friday.

For years, the U.S. military has worked closely with the NFL in providing fly-bys and personnel for patriotic themes at games in which the NFL has featured its relationship with the military.

"Supporting the military is part of the fabric of the NFL," the NFL said on its website. "This support takes place both at home and abroad, with NFL players and coaches traveling overseas to salute the troops, as well as with team recognition of our servicemen and women through the Salute to Service campaign."

Kirby also noted that since 2012, the Defense Department and the NFL have collaborated on research into concussions and traumatic brain injury.

At West Point in 2012, Army Gen. Ray Odierno, the Army's chief of staff, joined Goodell to hail the collaboration on concussions and TBI research.

Odierno noted the similarities between NFL players and soldiers.

"Mental and physical toughness, discipline, team over self and stressing the importance of resilience are fundamental to the cultures of both the NFL and the Army," Odierno said. "We have the Warrior Ethos, reinforced by the Soldier's Creed."

"We are seeking to educate both players and soldiers about TBI, to empower them to seek treatment both on the battlefield and playing field," Odierno said.

Earlier Friday, President Obama referred to the NFL domestic violence scandals in joining with the NCAA (National Collegiate Athletic Association) and other groups in the "It's On Us" promotional campaign against sexual assaults on campus.

"The issue of violence against women is now in the news every day. We started to, I think, get a better picture of what domestic violence is all about," Obama said.

"The fact is from sport leagues to pop culture to politics, our society does not sufficiently value women," Obama said.

-- Richard Sisk can be reached at

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