The Flat: Domestic violence is most serious of NFL’s other issues

On Tuesday Oct. 25, the Giants released their now former kicker Josh Brown, who was suspended for domestic violence a mere game until more information came to light. First off, good on New York for putting team first and realizing how bad Brown was to their brand. In having someone like that in your lockeroom, you’re pretty much condoning the act he’s connected to. Up until they finally rid themselves of him, they were only distancing themselves through their words and not sort of actions.

If you’ve followed this column at all, you’ll know that I’m half a season into really my first year ever watching the NFL down for down. And I’ve come to fall in love with the sport:

So I care about what happens with the sport this year and the ones to come after it. There are so many silly issues within the league going on currently. Many of which have been spoken about ad nauseum: catch rule; excessive celebrations; pass interference; and, of course, domestic violence. Those don’t even scratch at what else needs to be discussed and addressed in the NFL. I’ll write specifically on each of these as the season progresses and into the offseason, but for this week I want to continue looking at the Brown situation.

Being someone who is a fan of sports first and foremost and covers it as a journalist, I’ve known about Derek Jeter’s “Players Tribune” for some time; the thing is I never have taken the time to read anything on the site…until now. As I was flicking through my Twitter timeline, I came across a link to a post Seahawks’s CB Richard Sherman wrote, which I linked to below in my Challenge Flag. What he wrote about domestic violence in particular struck me:

If you remember, after the Ray Rice incident — and after the NFL admitted it had made a “crucial mistake” in how it was handled — the league made changes to its domestic violence policy. In an effort to avoid repeating its mistakes, the NFL declared that any player in violation of its personal conduct policy as it pertains to domestic violence would be subject to a six-game suspension.

The league says one thing — like how seriously it takes domestic violence — but when it comes time to act, it does another.

But then, when Giants kicker Josh Brown was recently found to be in violation of that policy, the NFL suspended him for just one game.

See, what some people didn’t notice about the new personal conduct policy was that within the policy’s language was the stipulation that the NFL reserved the right to impose a longer or shorter suspension depending on the circumstances of the incident.

So basically, there is no real policy. The NFL can do whatever it wants.

I do sympathize with the NFL, to an extent. Issues such as domestic violence are difficult to legislate. No two cases are the same, which can make applying discipline tricky. We struggle in our society as a whole with many of the same issues, so to ask anything more of the NFL is probably unfair.

But while it’s difficult to apply discipline in cases of domestic violence, it’s impossible to do so when there is no clear policy or standard, which the league does not have.

The reality is that the league says that there is no place for domestic violence in the NFL. Its actions in the most recent cases, however, simply haven’t reflected that. This is just another reason why players don’t have a lot of trust in the league. The league says one thing — like how seriously it takes domestic violence — but when it comes time to act, it does another.

Sherman is right, so right. In my opinion, the NFL needs to take its time with the new information on Brown and thoroughly analyse the situation from all sides, in order to properly put together a policy that satisfies most. Key word: “most.” Best option for the league is to insure in the meetings underway and going forward that there are representatives in the form of owners, coaches and players.

One idea and suggestion from a friend of mine is to suspend the player on his first domestic violence violation for a full season. Then, if he should hopefully not do so again, a lifetime ban. Harsh? Definitely. But it may be necessary to create real change. Domestic violence is unfortuanately not preventable in many instances, but if the NFL can keep these vile people from being showcased on their platform the better off everyone will be.

ICYMI: I wrote last week’s column on Brown too, so if you want to know more of what I think read it here

FILM STUDY

Common Sense (Richard Sherman, The Player’s Tribune)

Aside from Sherman’s take on domestic violence, he compellingly writes about the other issues the NFL faces. A must read, and the only suggested one for this week.

Bills’s new OC, Anthony Lynn, is a coach’s coach. He’s sure to be a head coach in the next few years, if not sooner.

I love Eric Davis’s appearances with Rich Eisen. He never holds back his opinion, hence #FatMouthingWednesdays. You have to listen to what he says about the pass interference rule, another NFL issue, and what the Cowboys should do with the Dak Prescott and Tony Romo QB dilemma. It’s fascinating to listen to.

FANCY FIVE

  1. Patriots
  2. Vikings
  3. Cowboys
  4. Broncos
  5. Raiders