The National Football League's domestic violence dilemma has resurfaced with New York Giants kicker, Josh Brown, and similar to the Ray Rice controversy, the league initially opted to give him a slap on the wrist, suspending him just one game after discovering his pattern of domestic abuse with his ex-wife, Molly (Ray Rice initially received a two-game suspension for his elevator incident).
Brown's one-game suspension fueled a firestorm of public outrage, as people pointed out how New England Patriot's quarterback, Tom Brady, got smacked with a four game suspension for the Deflategate scandal, a seemingly lesser offense. Amid complaints from advocates and NFL fans alike about Brown's "light sentence," he was released from his contract with the Giants. Although it seems Brown's punishment finally played out justly, the NFL's reaction to his domestic abuse battles bring up a bigger problem. The National Football League must determine how it will weigh, advocate against and swiftly respond to domestic violence with hearty disciplinary action.
Let's weigh this: Tom Brady got suspended four games for allegedly throwing "lighter" footballs around in the NFL Playoffs. This is a legit offense, and in my opinion worthy of some form of punishment. The problem with his Deflategate suspension is magnified when compared to the NFL's initial responses to known domestic violence incidents.
Take Baltimore Ravens running back, Ray Rice, for instance. On February 19, 2014, TMZ released a video of Rice dragging his then fiancée, Janay Palmer's, unconscious body out of an elevator. NFL executives didn't appear to initially pry into the incident further, and it would take five months of court cases for them to finally hit Rice with a two-game suspension without pay on July 24, 2014. The league then revised its domestic abuse policy the following month and extended Rice's suspension to six games. It would take TMZ releasing a second elevator video on September 8, 2014, showing Rice punching Palmer in the face for the league to suspend him indefinitely. NFL Commissioner, Roger Goodall claimed he was unaware of the second tape.
I don't believe that for a second, but I digress.
Just think, second tape or no second tape, NFL executives knew Rice had a domestic violence abuse battle on his hands, and they waited five months to make a decision about how to deal with it. The second tape surfaces, and Goodall claims he wasn't aware it existed. This all lends itself to a lack of swift action and apathy when it comes to NFL players and domestic abuse.
And then there's Josh Smith, New York Giants kicker and an admitted abuser who has a paper trail of domestic abuse against his ex-wife.
Literally, a paper trail.
Brown was arrested in May 2015 for fourth-degree domestic assault, and in recently released documents, Smith outlines his run of domestic abuse stating, "I have physically mentally, emotionally and verbally been a repulsive man...I have abused my wife."
Although, the New York Giants front office claims they had no knowledge of Josh's statements prior to their release, they were aware of his arrest in 2015, and signed him to a contract anyway.
So, the question becomes, does the National Football League really care to to advocate on behalf of domestic violence victims when their players are the abusers, or is the league simply comfortable with responding when they are left with no other choice?
Is what's done on the field the only concern?
The NFL certainly has a tough line to toe when it comes to domestic violence, but I believe it's their obligation to do so. As professional athletes, these men are held to a standard of personal responsibility that plays directly into how they treat themselves, their teammates, their coaches and their families. You can't smack Tom Brady in the face with a four game suspension then drag your feet when players representing your organization are endangering the lives of their loved ones. Now, some may argue these players don't get paid to be good people, they get paid to play football. But they also get paid to represent the NFL in the highest regard, and abusing women violates that obligation.
So to Roger Goodall and all NFL executives, coaches and players: make up your mind, make this right and make advocacy against domestic violence a priority.