Jackie Speier Says House Will Hold Hearing on NFL, Issa Says Not So Fast

Update: A spokeswoman for Rep. Darrell Issa's House oversight committee wrote us to say no agreement has been reached on holding a hearing, contrary to Rep. Jackie Speier's press release.

San Francisco 49ers defensive tackle Ray McDonald, wearing No. 91, in action in 2012. (Brian Bahr/Getty Images)
San Francisco 49ers defensive tackle Ray McDonald, arrested for domestic abuse Aug. 31. (Brian Bahr/Getty Images)

“Chairman Issa had separate conversations today with both Rep. Speier and Ranking Member Cummings about potential pathways for continuing the committee’s oversight of ongoing issues in the National Football League," wrote Becca Glover Watkins, communications director for the House Committee on Oversight & Government Reform. "Reports of a decision or agreement to hold a hearing are inaccurate.”

We're trying to get a response from Jackie Speier's office to see what's up.

Original post

The office of Rep. Jackie Speier (D-San Francisco/San Mateo Counties) sent out a press release today announcing that the Democratic and Republican leaders of the House Committee on Oversight & Government Reform had agreed to hold a hearing on the NFL. Speier requested that committee chairman Darrell Issa and ranking minority member Elijah Cummings hold the hearing following the recent spate of news about the NFL’s treatment of domestic violence cases, the release said.

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"The NFL’s failure to appropriately respond to crimes and misconduct has harmed the prestige of the game and the millions of Americans who look up to these players as role models," Speier said in the release. "The NFL’s gross mishandling of the deplorable actions of Ray Rice is the latest example of how this insulated institution has incompetently dealt with serious issues.

“This committee must also investigate the league’s tolerance of performance-enhancing drugs, the impact of traumatic brain injury on players later in life, and the tax-exempt status the NFL enjoys thanks to a loophole Congress created in the ‘60s,” said Speier. “I look forward to working with Chairman Issa and Ranking Member Cummings to shed light on the NFL’s internal policies and processes, which have been largely inconsistent and opaque, and identifying areas where reform is needed.”

NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell is currently under pressure to resign after questions have arisen about whether the league saw the elevator video of former Baltimore Raven Ray Rice knocking out Janay Palmer, his then-fiance and now-wife, with a punch. The video was posted by the website TMZ on Monday. The NFL said no one from the league saw the video, which shows what happened before Rice dragged the unconscious Palmer out of the elevator, shown in a previous video published by TMZ in February.

In July Rice was suspended for just two games by Goodell, a punishment that drew widespread criticism for its leniency. In August, referring to the incident, Goodell said he "didn't get it right" and distributed a new domestic violence policy to team owners stipulating a six-game suspension without pay for a first offense and a lifetime ban for any offense after that.

But renewed outrage emerged after the Associated Press cited an unnamed law enforcement official who said he sent the video to the NFL five months ago. "He said he sent the tape five months ago, and played a 12-second voicemail from an NFL office number on April 9 confirming the video arrived. A female voice expresses thanks and says: 'You're right. It's terrible.' "

Locally, the 49ers have drawn intense criticism for the team's handling of defensive tackle Ray McDonald, who was arrested on suspicion of domestic violence Aug. 31. The Niners decided to let McDonald play while the investigation is pending, citing the need for "due process" before they levy any suspension. San Francisco Chronicle columnist Ann Killion has written several scathing columns about the decision to play McDonald and the team's handling of Aldon Smith, who's been involved in all sorts of trouble over the past few years and who was suspended by the NFL last month for nine games. You can hear Killion's thoughts on the issue in this interview with KQED's Mina Kim:

Yesterday, 49ers radio broadcaster Ted Robinson was suspended for two games for comments he made about the Ray Rice incident on KNBR Monday. From the Chronicle's Niner Insider blog:

In discussing the controversy regarding former Ravens running back Ray Rice, Robinson said the victim, Rice’s wife, Janay, bore some of the responsibility for not speaking up after she was knocked unconscious by her then-fiancee.

“That, to me, is the saddest part of it,” Robinson said.

Robinson also said her decision to marry Rice after she was assaulted was “pathetic."

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The announcer received a two-game suspension from the Pac-12 Network as well.

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