Fool me once…
A sad reality has cast a shadow over the National Football League; it has no idea how to handle domestic violence cases.
The most recent example of this glaring problem comes from New York Giants Kicker Josh Brown.
New Jersey Advance Media reported Brown initially came under investigation in response to an incident in May 2015, when he was arrested on a fourth-degree domestic violence charge. Somehow, in the past year, Brown fell through the cracks of the NFL’s new domestic violence policy, with the league handing him a mere one-game suspension, and ceasing any further investigations regarding his arrest.
According to the New York Times, the Brown case was reopened Wednesday, Oct. 19, when the Washington State King County Sheriff’s Department released documents and journals written by both Brown and his former wife, Molly, detailing Brown’s physical and emotional abuse over the past several years.
“The NFL has produced advertising campaigns aimed at creating awareness of domestic violence, but these actions are meaningless if the league is unwilling to enforce its own policies.”
According to NPR, Brown journaled he had “controlled her by making her feel less human than me, and manipulated her with money.”
In February 2014, Baltimore Ravens Running Back Ray Rice was charged with simple assault and indicted for third-degree aggravated assault. In response, the NFL slapped him with a two game suspension and $58,000 fine. It wasn’t until September of the same year the Ravens terminated his contract and the NFL suspended him indefinitely.
His indefinite suspension came after TMZ leaked security camera footage of Rice striking and dragging his wife out of a casino elevator. According to the Associated Press, the tape of Rice was sent to the NFL months prior to his termination from the league, while NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell claimed they never received such information.
In the fallout, the NFL created a policy to address domestic violence in August 2014.
According to the policy, the league now issues a six-game suspension for any NFL personnel who violate it once, and a lifetime ban from the league for those who violate it twice.
Giants staff, team owner John Mara, Goodell, and NFL officials knew of Brown’s history for over a year and acknowledged Brown admitted several instances of his spousal abuse. Brown was never removed from the team or punished for his confessions until the abuse was made public.
The Times went on to say the documents submitted during the 2015 arrest caused his release from the Giants on Tuesday, Oct. 25, and likely ended his career.
Brown’s contract termination came after a public outcry for justice, showing the league is more reactive than proactive in its handling of domestic violence cases.
Based on these instances, it’s becoming difficult to discern whether the league is incompetent when investigating these cases or simply chooses to ignore them.
Goodell and the NFL have set priorities in all the wrong places. From end zone celebration dances to tinted visors, the NFL has chosen to fine and punish athletes for trivial reasons, all in the interest of holding players to a certain set of standards it believes represent the league.
The NFL has produced advertising campaigns aimed at creating awareness of domestic violence, but these actions are meaningless if the league is unwilling to enforce its own policies. The only solution for this issue is to strike down harder on players for breaking the personal conduct policy. If the NFL enacted and enforced a zero-tolerance policy, perhaps athletes would understand there are consequences for their actions.
No more suspensions. No more fines. No more second chances. A zero-tolerance policy for domestic violence would yield results. If a hard-nosed approach like this doesn’t bear results, then a more drastic approach would be necessary, including a shift in league officials, beginning with those at the top. Goodbye Goodell, hello new management.