Friday, October 21, 2016

The NFL Has a Problem Handling Domestic Violence

            This season hasn't been the kindest to the National Football League. Plagued by lingering issues of concussions and being deemed the 'No Fun League' for penalizing celebrations, the NFL has been recently hit with plummeting ratings, player protests during the national anthem, and now another domestic violence case. If there's one thing that the NFL does NOT know how to do, it's how to handle the problem of domestic violence.
            Such is the case of Josh Brown. The New York Giants kicker is reported to have beaten his ex-wife, Molly. He has swung a jacket at Molly, hitting her with the zipper, and has also given her bruises on her leg. There was even a point where NFL security had to be called in because of a dispute between the two at a hotel in Hawaii during Pro Bowl weekend in January. Brown has admitted to committing such actions.
            Now a big part of this Brown issue falls on the Giants themselves. Team owner John Mara hasn't cut ties with Brown, only asking him not to come to London for Sunday's game against the Rams. Head coach Bob McAdoo has gone on record saying that "his team will not turn their backs on Brown". This sends the wrong message to the public while tarnishing the NFL's reputation, saying that beating your spouse is a condoned action in the workplace. What the Ravens and Steve Bisciotti did when a video surfaced of Ray Rice belting his wife was they terminated Rice's contract immediately. At least with Baltimore (and Rice himself for rectifying the situation), they got it right on the first try. With Mara and the Giants, they blew a chance to save face.
            As for the NFL, this isn't the first time they've botched a domestic violence case. Look at how they handled the Rice situation. Roger Goodell handed down a two-game suspension to Rice initially (he later suspended him indefinitely for the season). Think about this: How does Tom Brady get suspended four games for deflating footballs, yet Ray Rice can get suspended initially for two games for punching his fiance in an elevator? The NFL claimed that it was denied a public records request regarding the Josh Brown documents by the Sheriff's Office of King County, Washington, yet Diana Moskovitz of Deadspin proved how easy it was to get one. The article also explains how the NFL always has access to such public records, showing how Goodell and company tend to get in their own way when it comes to investigating these manners. Don't forget the NFL also reduced Greg Hardy's suspension from ten games to four in spite of being found guilty of assaulting his girlfriend and communicating threats in 2014.
            The NFL could take some notes from other sports leagues regarding domestic violence policy. Last year, MLB announced a joint policy regarding sexual assault, domestic violence, and child abuse that also encompassed everyone else employed in MLB and minor league baseball. The policy states that players accused be placed on paid administrative leave as the investigation goes on. Any players caught committing such crimes will be suspended depending on the severity. The policy also creates a program for treatment that includes counseling and psychological evaluation. There are three experts that serve on this board along with two MLB-appointed members and two union-appointed members. Any players that fail to comply with the treatment plan will subject to discipline. Recently, Rockies second baseman Jose Reyes was suspended for 51 games for domestic violence charges. Granted, Reyes's wife refused to cooperate in the investigation, prompting the case to be dropped. However, commissioner Rob Manfred did place Reyes on administrative leave before handing down the suspension, following the policy put in place.
             MLB actually suspended Aroldis Chapman first under their new policy for 30 games when Chapman allegedly used firearms against his partner. MLB put his trade to the Dodgers on hold as they investigated the incident. In the end, the charges were dropped due to lack of physical evidence and inconsistency in his girlfriend's report. However, this was the case to test MLB's domestic violence policy. The NBA handled the Jeff Taylor case better than the NFL has ever done and it took them one try. Charlotte Hornets forward Jeff Taylor was suspended 24 games without pay for misdemeanor domestic violence charges and malicious destruction of property charges in 2014.
            Whether it be the Greg Hardy incident, the Ray Rice incident, or the current issue of domestic violence, Roger Goodell must do better at fixing the domestic violence problem in the NFL. They've already gone through with PSAs, but they'll have to actually address the problem head-on. It's time to stop having Goodell be 'judge, jury, and executioner' regarding disciplinary issues and let a committee handle such situations. It's also time for some owners to properly rectify such situations in order to save being crucified by the general public. The NFL will not want to be left behind by other sports leagues regarding domestic violence and other crimes. After all, they don't want to lose any more fans and doesn't want to see their ratings fall any further.

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