Thoughts on politics, baseball and what lies in between...
Friday, November 13, 2015
It's time to act on NFL's black eye
One thing I truly dread about the end of baseball season is that our TV seems to host an hours-long and seemingly never-ending football game on Sunday afternoons and evenings. I will watch the Patriots but usually spend the rest of the evening mocking the commentators or “the waitin’ on waitin’ on Sunday night” dance that Carrie Underwood does every week in a shrinking sparkly dress. This past week’s featured late game was the Dallas Cowboys v. Denver Broncos and one of the commentators read an awkward statement at the beginning of the program about how the new details that have emerged from Dallas player Greg Hardy’s assault on his girlfriend. Long story short, he beat her up and then paid her off so even with a mountain of evidence against him that included graphic photos and several witness statements, his suspension was reduced to a measly four games and he’s once again making millions of dollars to play a game.
Sadly, Greg Hardy is just the latest in a long line of professional athletes who brutally assault their partners and are not behind bars. Ray Rice, last year’s poster child for assault and battery, was seemingly blacklisted from the NFL after the film of him dragging his unconscious fiancé by her hair became widely available but he has actually been using the media spotlight around Hardy to let people know that he is ready to play in 2015(!). The NFL and the various teams that have been involved with these issues have been complicit in protecting these players and seem intent to ride out the scandal rather than get out in front of the issue and say “no more.” While I am sure that their existing contracts protect these players, now would be a good time for the NFL to issue a policy that does not tolerate domestic abuse from its players. By not taking a strong stand, they are not only setting a precedent for future cases but telling a generation of young men that they can get away with whacking someone if they can afford pay them off.
In the absence of a zero tolerance policy on domestic abuse, I think that fans of football should show their disgust by making a different choice when tempted by NFL merchandise. A piece of every dollar spent on that jersey supports policies that are rewarding and protecting violent men. Unless the league feels a tremendous amount of pressure from fans and their bottom line, they have no real impetus to change their behavior and next season we’ll have another Ray Rice or Greg Hardy to talk about.