Vikings plan new domestic violence education program

EDEN PRAIRIE, Minn. – As the NFL tries to rebound from a year of harrowing off-field headlines, the Minnesota Vikings are doing their own work to educate people in their organization on issues of domestic and sexual violence.

A source in the Vikings organization said the team is finalizing a program focused on prevention and education in the areas of domestic violence, sexual assault and child endangerment.

The program, which is expected to start in January, is designed to reach all levels of the organization -- from executives to coaches and players -- and family members of team employees also will be invited to participate. The source said the Vikings eventually hope to offer the program to the entire community, partially through local colleges and high schools.

The Vikings will consult experts in the areas of domestic violence and child endangerment to measure the program's effectiveness -- and the experts will be looking specifically for a drop in the number of domestic incidents involving team personnel, the source said.

The Vikings' initiative comes at the end of a sobering year for the league in the area of domestic violence. The NFL beefed up its personal-conduct policy after former Baltimore Ravens running back Ray Rice was arrested in February, accused of assaulting his then-fiancée in Atlantic City, and Carolina Panthers defensive end Greg Hardy was convicted in an assault case against a woman in June. Vikings running back Adrian Peterson, of course, was placed on the commissioner's exempt list Sept. 17 after he was arrested on a charge of recklessly injuring his 4-year-old son in an act of corporal punishment, and, after Peterson pleaded no contest to misdemeanor charges Nov. 4, the league suspended him for the rest of the season. Peterson appealed that suspension, but arbitrator Harold Henderson upheld it Friday.

The league unveiled a public service announcement campaign about domestic and sexual violence, involving current and former NFL players, earlier this season. The Vikings' program, however, is believed to be among the first and most comprehensive education programs designed by a team.