Blumenthal wants Congress to punish NFL if it doesn’t reform

Sen. Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn., said Monday he’s introducing a bill that would strip the NFL — and other professional sports teams — of their lucrative antitrust exemptions if they don’t reform.

The NFL is under scrutiny for a number of recent scandals, including its handling of domestic violence allegations against former Baltimore Raven Ray Rice.

Speaking outside of UConn’s Rentschler Field in East Hartford, Blumenthal said his legislation would make the antitrust exemption, which allows professional sports leagues and teams to negotiate exclusive broadcasts rights, renewable every five years.

“The era of blank checks must end,” Blumenthal said.

Blumenthal wants the NFL to crack down on players and staff accused of domestic violence — and donate money to organizations that help victims.

“The NFL should not be the aider and abettor of domestic violence,” he said.

He also wants more to be done to protect the health of professional athletes, including protections from concussions. “They have to show good corporate citizenship,” he said.

Blumenthal said it’s unlikely Congress will approve his bill in the few remaining weeks it will be in session this year. “But (congressional) support for the bill will send a message to the NFL, even if it never passes,” he said.

Since 2000, 85 NFL players have been charged or cited for domestic violence, Blumenthal said. Until this year, none of those players had received more than a single-game suspension.

Blumenthal was supported by Sarah Eagan, Connecticut child advocate; David Wang, co-chair of the Connecticut Task Force on the occurrence of concussions in youth athletes; and Karen Gaston, a victim of domestic violence.

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