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TEMPE, Ariz. (AP) — Arizona Cardinals coach Bruce Arians says domestic violence is a worldwide problem and should be addressed everywhere, not just in the NFL.
"If this bad scar on the NFL, as you want to say right now, makes the rest of the world aware of what's going on," he said, "it's damn good."
Arians spoke to a mob of reporters after practice on Thursday, a day after running back Jonathan Dwyer was taken into custody at the Cardinals' practice facility on domestic violence charges.
Arians said Dwyer expressed shock at the arrest and insisted he was innocent.
The Cardinals placed Dwyer on the reserve/non-football illness list, meaning he can't play for the team again this season.
"We'll allow the court system to take care of what is true and what isn't," Arians said. "Up until then, until he's exonerated, he will not be a member of this football team. If and when he is exonerated, I will gladly take him back."
Arians said he was "floored" when police showed up at the Cardinals facility late Wednesday morning.
"It was like the worst nightmare a coach can have right now," he said. "For me personally, I was totally shocked because I've known Jon a long time and it was totally out of character from what I've known."
That was the reaction, too, of inside linebacker Larry Foote, who has known Dwyer for several years dating back to their time with the Pittsburgh Steelers. Foote said he and his wife were with Dwyer and his wife on a flight to San Diego for a Christian conference this offseason.
He said Dwyer and his wife regularly attended Bible study.
"I was surprised," Foote said. "I got a thousand phone calls from people back in Pittsburgh, like 'What's going on?' A lot of people just can't believe it. I'm more sad for the family. It's a young, beautiful family, just had a little boy. From the outside, it looked like everything was smooth."
Arians said he's extremely sensitive to the issue because his wife worked for more than 18 years as a court-appointed special advocate for children of families with child abuse and other problems.
"I think anyone who touches a woman or a child, in my opinion, needs to go to jail for a long time," Arians said.
He said that he's always approached his job as if the players were his children.
"And this is very hard," Arians said. "If this was my son, I would have to have a very hard time dealing with it."
Wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald said he hadn't seen this many reporters in the Cardinals' locker room since the Super Bowl season.
"We're asking questions like he's been tried and found guilty," Fitzgerald said. "I always thought you were innocent until proven guilty. He's got a long process to deal with still, so we got to let that play out."
Arians insisted this won't be a distraction for a team getting ready for "a huge football game" against San Francisco on Sunday.
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