The NFL has a dirty little secret: it could not care less about domestic violence. Since the Ray Rice scandal in 2014, the league has been criticized for its lax disciplinary measures toward domestic violence far too many times.
This summer, New York Giants kicker Josh Brown was dealt a one-game suspension for reported physical, mental and emotional abuse of his now ex-wife Molly Dedo. Brown avoided any criminal charges, as prosecutors cited a lack of evidence and the unwillingness of Molly Brown to cooperate with the investigation.
Although garnering a small media blowback for the short suspension, the story was ultimately swept under the rug by the league, looking to return the spotlight to its shiny new stadiums and superstars.
The story remained quiet until this past Thursday, when the King County, Wash. sheriff’s department released a 165-page document detailing admissions of guilt by Brown found in journal entries written as part of therapy and counseling.
“I have physically, mentally, emotionally and verbally been a repulsive man. I have abused my wife,” Brown wrote in an entry. He was then suspended for one game for “violating the league’s personal conduct policy.” This is where the gross hypocrisy begins.
After making a mess of Rice’s domestic abuse, the league quickly drafted a new rule regarding how it would handle any future domestic violence issues. Rather than debate about the severity of punishment, all acts would be immediately dealt a six-game suspension, similar to the automatic four-game suspension for testing positive for a banned substance.
The thought behind the rule was to eliminate any gray area that may arise around domestic violence and create a swifter form of justice.
This idea sounds great in theory, but it is only effective if the NFL actually implements the rule. Brown was accused of domestic violence, but instead of being handed a six-game ban, the league, preoccupied with appearing pristine to the public, only banned him from one. The hypocrisy of the league in its efforts to end domestic violence is abhorrent. It does not care about ending domestic abuse.
They only want to cover their own rear ends.
While the behavior of the NFL is certainly atrocious, the Giants and their owner John Mara are perhaps the biggest culprits. Despite the allegations of abuse, Mara and the Giants re-signed Brown to a contract extension. Rather than cut ties with a known abuser, the team continued to reward a flawed character.
On the other hand, of course, there is the argument of ignorance. Perhaps Mara and the NFL did not know anything about Brown’s wrongdoings. However, in a radio interview on WFAN New York last Thursday, Mara admitted that Brown had confessed the abuse of his wife in August. If Mara truly cared about the ugly dispute, he would have done his due diligence.
The excuse of ignorance further fails after it was revealed that Brown’s wife had NFL security move her and her kids to a different room at Pro Bowl this January in an attempt to protect themselves from a drunken rampage that the kicker went on the night before. This incident should have been enough evidence of a violent history for the NFL to actually follow through with its six-game suspension rule.
Further adding to the gross failure of the NFL to take action are the comments Mara made about domestic violence after the Rice incident. In an interview with SI.com, Mara said, “We want our standards to be higher, we want there to be more education, and we want the penalties to be tougher because we want to do what we can to put an end to domestic violence and sexual assault.”
Either Mara was only saying what he thought the public wanted to hear, or he only cares about domestic violence issues when they do not affect his team. Regardless, he does not practice what he preaches.
Now, the NFL and the Giants are caught in a bind. In a league where players get a four-game suspension for removing air from a ball, the NFL is too reactionary and not proactive enough.
At it stands, the NFL and Giants only care about public perception. But now, for the public and everyone involved in these allegations, the league needs to quickly clean up their tolerance for this disgusting act.
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