A Baltimore-based therapist who was disturbed by the response to the murder-suicide committed by a Kansas City Chiefs player has taken her cause national.
Gretchen Tome, who works at House of Ruth, posted a petition on Change.org demanding NFL commissioner Roger Goodell mandate players convicted of domestic-violence related charges receive counseling. As of 4:30 p.m. Tuesday, more than 6,700 people had electronically "signed" the petition.
Each time someone endorses the petition, an email is sent to Goodell and three members of his staff. As of Tuesday afternoon, Tome had not heard a response from the NFL.
Tome first wrote a letter to the editor of The Sun after she felt the national media failed to sufficiently discuss the role of domestic violence in the aftermath of Javon Belcher's suicide. He shot himself at the Chiefs' practice complex after murdering Kasandra Perkins, who gave birth to their daughter on Sept. 11.
"Right now, the NFL can suspend players based on off-the-field conduct," Tome said in an interview Tuesday. "That's not enough. Domestic violence doesn't just happen. It's usually caused by a pattern of behavior and a way of thinking about women. That needs to be addressed."
Tome was careful to say that she had not observed a higher-than-usual number of domestic abuse cases among NFL players.
"It's not a problem specific to the NFL," she said. "It happens to women everywhere."
Her goal is to convince Goodell make the high-profile athletes an example for the millions who watch them.
According to Tome, 21 of the league's 32 teams have "players who have at some point in time faced domestic assault or sexual assault charges."
Terrell Suggs had a temporary protective order against him removed Tuesday by the mother of his two children. She previously had said the linebacker punched her in the neck and drove a car as she was dragged beside it. Suggs, who also was accused of domestic violence by the woman in 2009, did not face criminal charges in either incident. He has said she endangered their children.