My articles usually start off with some funny story or random crazy thought but neither will happen in this piece. This issue is too serious, too prevalent and quite frankly, too personal. My sister was the victim of a physically abusive relationship. It lasted for almost 8 years but to my family it seemed to go on forever. Reminiscing on that horrific time period while listening to sports radio I came to an epiphany-the NFL will never truly address domestic violence…and here’s why.
On Monday, July 28th the NFL trotted out Senior VP of Labor Policy and Government Affairs AND public relations punching bag Adolpho Birch on to ESPN Radio’s Mike and Mike to “explain” the reason Ravens RB Ray Rice only received a 2 game suspension. As he started speaking and smugly shirked off the public outrage it became evident that the NFL could care less about explaining themselves to anyone. They understand a few things about fans and the general public-1. Football is the most popular sport in America and ‘Merica loves being a part of something popular. There’s a reason why the Jacksonville Jaguars aren’t called America’s Team-they don’t win championships. If you’re the best, we love ya-no matter what you do. 2. Men are visual creatures-let’s be honest, the only reason so many people are outraged by the Ray Rice situation is because there’s video of him dragging an unconscious body out of an elevator.
Don’t believe me? 21 of the 32 NFL teams have had at least one player with a domestic violence charge. Add to that the fact that there are thousands of people now signing a petition calling for the NFL to issue harsher penalties on domestic violence. Where were those same people during any of those other cases? They’re not mad because there’s no video. And honestly what’s the chance of another video like this popping up like Ray Rice’s? 3. Fans have A.D.D. when it comes to player issues-once we all get on our soap box, scream from the mountain top about how outraged we are and get done patting ourselves on the back…we move on.
Remember Donald Sterling? You might say “Of course I do, it was wrong and I am still a bit mad about that one!” Ok…what was the issue before Sterling? Can’t remember, can you? Because we as a nation have a short sports memory when it comes to wrong doing and we move on the next low hanging fruit. The NFL knows all of this. They know when the season starts and we draft our fantasy teams and in week 4 Ray Rice rushes for 110 yards and a TD…fans will cheer-and forget. They also know that someone in the NBA will do something dumb and we LOVE defaming them so why address anything if the above will eventually end up happening?
In the same interview Birch almost confirmed a story I heard a few days ago which I swore was a rumor.
The story goes as follows: Goodell met with Ray Rice, GM Ozzie Newsome, Team President Dick Cass, Exec VP Jeff Pash…and Janay Palmer-Rice’s fiancé at that point. They all met in Goodell’s office to discuss the “incident”. Think about this-what’s the best way to intimidate an abuse victim? Have them discuss the issue in front of their attacker. If Goodell was a lawyer he would’ve been disbarred for this action and seeing that he comes from a FAMILY of lawyers he should know better…or maybe he does know better. He knows that legally there are no repercussions of this action. During that meeting she may have explained why Rice “shouldn’t lose his job”, why it may have been “her fault” and why he will “never do it again” and by way of her doing that the commissioner “inadvertently” made Janay plead for her safety by pleading for Ray Rice’s job.
If the NFL sets a harsh precedent with this case…what happens if one of the Golden Boys of the NFL are involved in something similar to this? You think they want to suspend an elite QB for the season and lose viewership/ticket sales/PSL and jersey sales? That should NOT be a factor in their thinking but I’m almost sure it is. Make no mistake-the NFL is a corporation and this corporation isn’t about to lose money for anything…and sadly violence against women is on that list.
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