When Will The NFL Ever Take Domestic Violence Seriously?

When Will the NFL Ever Learn From Previous Responses To Player Domestic Violence?

By Christopher Saunders  
Today, one of the league’s marquee franchises will take the field at London’s Twickenham Stadium for a date designed to showcase this great sport of ours to an international audience. Back home, the game kicked off at 9:30am ET to a national audience.  It’s the first pro football game pitting a New York team against a Los Angeles team in 22 years. The broadcast also took place on the league’s NFL network.
What will the discussion focus on you might ask?
Josh Brown, K - NY Giants. Credit: HuffingtonPost.com

Josh Brown, K – NY Giants. Credit: HuffingtonPost.com

Will it be how the Giants are still hanging on to Josh Brown?  Will it be that the league is still looking into his domestic violence problems?  Or will it be that the team came to its senses and dropped the ax on its kicker, who was left home and inactive for the London game?  Did the NFL make Brown ineligible to play for anyone by sticking him on the commissioner’s exempt list, which was created specifically for a situation like this one?

I know all of that matters now, but I’m here to tell you it shouldn’t.
Two years ago, the biggest problem for the NFL was created by its long-standing reluctance to lean on that little thing that your mom and dad instilled in you at an age you can’t remember:  the ability to separate right from wrong.  Instead, the Ray Rice case, and then the Greg Hardy and Adrian Peterson cases after it, became about crisis management and public relations.
Ray Rice, at a June, 2014 interview with the league, was completely forthcoming about the domestic violence altercation with his then-fiancée Janay in an Atlantic City elevator the previous February. Following that interview,  the NFL suspended Rice for two games.  The following September, when video was released showing Rice doing what he had told NFL investigators he’d done, the Ravens cut him and the league suspended him indefinitely.
Credit: stopabusecampaign.com

Credit: stopabusecampaign.com

Rice hasn’t played football since.

The Sunday before that video came out, Greg Hardy played for the Panthers despite having been convicted that summer of assaulting a woman.  Six days later, he was a late scratch for week 2.  Carolina coach Ron Rivera, when asked the reason for the cut, said the “climate has changed”.  Hardy didn’t play again until the following October.  Peterson’s situation came to light that week too, and, like Hardy, he didn’t suit up again all year.


The bottom line is that the violent actions of those three players were not the reason for the NFL disciplinary response.  No, it was a grainy piece of surveillance video, and the resulting national outrage, that resulted in league action. Only when the public had the visuals did the outcry become widespread, and only when the public outcry became widespread did the league get serious about the abuse of women and children.
I think we had all hoped it would be different the next time around, with the league carrying the newly instituted hammer of a six-game suspension for first-time domestic violence offenders.
And now, I feel like a rube for buying into that idea.
Here’s what we know about Brown’s situation (and we can speculate that things are even worse than what we know).   The NFL and the Giants looked into a May, 2015 domestic incident between Brown and his then-wife, Molly.  On the 26th of that month, the league put in an open-records request with King County (Washington State).  Eight months later,  NFL security was called to help defuse another domestic dispute involving Brown and his wife.
Based on his actions and the journal entries released in the last 48 hours, it’s clear that Brown is a troubled man. If the Giants wanted to help him, I’d understand it.  In fact, you could even applaud it.  The same could be said for the NFL, too, which did a creditable job years ago in assistive efforts with Michael Vick and Donte’ Stallworth.
Notably, if you said there’d be zero tolerance, as Mara did two years ago, and the player told you face-to-face that he stepped over that line, you can’t put him on your football team.  If you set the bar at six games, and there’s that much noise, you can’t cut the player slack and give him one game.
I don’t care if the player’s a kicker or a quarterback.  I don’t care if you’re New York or Jacksonville. Furthermore, while many people will probably think I’m crazy, but you have to wonder what the outcome would be if someone with the star power of a Tom Brady committed this crime?
Two years ago we were told it was a new day for the NFL and its response to domestic violence. We were assured by the league and NFL team owners that on-the-field production wouldn’t be a sole reason for the outcome of said players. The league has to come clean on its missteps and pledge to do better.
Sadly, for the NFL, however, it’s all talk instead of action. And sadly for fans, it’s sounding all too familiar.

Comment:  Twitter- @C_Broadcaster, Facebook- Chris Saunders, Email Chrisweather16@yahoo.com

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