Hannah Storm on Domestic Violence: 'What Does the NFL Stand For?'

Pam WrightLife

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ESPN's Hannah Storm challenged the NFL to make changes in how it deals with accusations of violence in the wake of the Ray Rice scandal.

Storm joined other football analysts in expressing dismay in how the NFL handled the incident from the get-go. When Rice knocked out his then fiancée, Janay Rice, in the elevator in March, Rice was only given a two-game suspension.

Following the release of a graphic surveillance video by TMZ last week showing the incident in graphic detail, Rice's contract with the Baltimore Ravens was terminated and the NFL suspended the player indefinitely.

Since then, NFL executives have maintained that they never saw the video footage, despite reports by CNN and ESPN to the contrary.

The 52-year-old mother of three daughters gave an emotional speech, saying she was a "lifelong" NFL fan and described how she discussed the news with her daughters.

"On Monday, I was genuinely excited to come to work and break down what I thought was a fascinating first weekend in the NFL," Storm said. "Instead I kicked off ESPN's coverage of the horrific Ray Rice elevator video."

Storm said one of her daughters is participating in her first fantasy football league this season.

"At breakfast this week, instead of discussing how her team was doing, we watched the Ray Rice video play out again in all of its ugliness," Storm said, holding back tears. "I spent this week answering seemingly impossible questions about the league's biggest stars. 'Mom, why did he do that? Why isn't he in jail? Why didn't he get fired?' And yesterday, 'Why don't they even have control of their own players?'

"So here's a question," she continued. "What does all of this mean for the future? What does it mean for female fans, whose dollars are so coveted by the NFL, who make up an estimated 45 percent of the NFL's fanbase? Are fans and are families, are we as parents supposed to compartmentalize everything that's happening? Are we supposed to simply separate a violent game on the field from violent acts off the field? And if we do, what message does that send?"

Storm then asked why more wasn't done initially and challenged the NFL to step it up when handling future cases of domestic abuse within the league.

"In the NFL, apparently seeing is believing," Storm said. "If the NFL and the Ravens had to see that video to be moved to significant action, then shouldn't those who support the league demand the same? To see action? To see change before believing, as we all wait on the answer to the central question: What exactly does the NFL stand for?"

Pam Wright