WASHINGTON -- NFL executive and former player Troy Vincent choked up Tuesday as he testified before a Senate Commerce Committee hearing about domestic violence in professional sports.
Vincent said abuse was a "way of life" in his home when he was growing up because his mother was beaten.
The NFL's executive vice president of football operations was the first of eight witnesses to speak at the hearing. Along with the NFL and its players' association, representatives of Major League Baseball, the NBA and NHL -- and their unions -- were scheduled to testify.
Sen. Jay Rockefeller, the West Virginia Democrat who chairs the panel, told Vincent his testimony was "a good beginning."
But Sen. John Thune of South Dakota, the committee's ranking Republican, earlier chastised the leagues for not sending their commissioners Tuesday.
And in a remark directed at the NFL Players Association, Sen. Dean Heller, a Nevada Republican, said: "When you're worried more about getting back on the field, instead of stopping abuse, your priorities are out of order."
In his opening statement, Rockefeller said he called for the hearing because "until very recently, the leagues' records have not been good" on the issue.
Rockefeller added that "the leagues have done little or nothing in response" when players have been charged or convicted for domestic violence.
The NFLPA said Monday it would not be represented, but on Tuesday, its deputy managing director, Teri Patterson, was added to the witness list. NFLPA executive director DeMaurice Smith sent Rockefeller a letter saying the union is establishing a commission to advise it on domestic violence prevention and punishment.
Domestic violence has become a main topic across the sports landscape in recent months, particularly in light of the case of former Baltimore Ravens running back Ray Rice.
He punched his then-fiancee -- now wife -- in a casino elevator and originally was suspended by NFL commissioner Roger Goodell for two games, then barred indefinitely after video of the incident emerged. Eventually, though, that second punishment was erased by an arbitrator when Rice appealed.
In New York on Tuesday, there was an appeal hearing for Minnesota Vikings running back Adrian Peterson, who was suspended for the rest of the season after pleading no contest to misdemeanor reckless assault for injuring his 4-year-old son with a wooden switch.
Vincent has been ordered to testify Thursday at Peterson's appeal, over the objections of the NFL, by Harold Henderson, who is hearing the appeal.
The NFLPA has submitted a recording and transcript of a conversation Vincent had with Peterson in which the NFL executive allegedly tells the running back he will be disciplined with time served on the commissioner's exempt list and a two-game suspension if he attended a disciplinary hearing Nov. 14 with NFL commissioner Roger Goodell.
In the NBA, Charlotte Hornets forward Jeff Taylor was suspended for 24 games without pay in November after pleading guilty to misdemeanor domestic violence assault and malicious destruction of hotel property.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.