Arizona State stepping up in fighting domestic violence

When Todd Graham first arrived at Arizona State, among the first things he asked his football players to do was think of a person who had been a major influence in their career. Then he told each player to find a picture of that person and hang it on the front of their locker, offering a daily visual reminder of who it as they were playing for.

Not too long ago, as news swirled about Ray Rice and other incidents of domestic violence, quarterback Taylor Kelly looked around the locker and noticed a trend – the vast majority of his teammates had hung a picture of a woman.

“A mom, a grandma, a sister,” Kelly said.

It got Kelly, and a group of other seniors that serve as the Sun Devils’ leadership council, to thinking: What if they took Graham’s idea and tweaked it to send a message?

So began a simple yet powerful stand against domestic violence -- Arizona State’s version of #ItsOnUs .

Each football player was given a piece of paper that read at the top: I pledge to stop domestic violence because … Each player filled in the blank.

Some took their messages back to their dorm rooms or left them in the locker room. But many took the pledges a step further. They stood before a camera, pledge in hand, and then posted the pictures on various forms of social media.

Some are on players’ personal Twitter and Instagram accounts. Many are on the team’s Twitter page, @footballasu.

Kelly said the players were all eager to participate, recognizing not only their ability to impact others, but also the importance of putting meaning to their private testimonies.

“The more you hear something, over and over, the more of an impact it has,’’ he said. “We figured, why not take it a step further and write it down? Then you really own it."

The Sun Devils are hoping that the idea catches on, not just with other teams on campus, but hopefully with other programs across the country.