NFL Facing Criticism On Handling Of Domestic Abuse Cases

The TV ratings for the current NFL season have seen an 11 percent drop in ratings, and league officials are trying to look for any possible explanations. They partially blame the upcoming U.S. presidential elections for their slumping rating.

Some NFL officials have theorized that some of their fans have simply decided to tune out football to focus more on a presidential race in which topics concerning the treatment of women and sexual assault have become front and center, thanks to one Donald J. Trump who has broadly boasted about kissing and groping women against their will.

Issues such as these are probably important for most people, especially women, but you sometimes have to wonder just how important these issues are to the National Football League.

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The league has once again come under intense scrutiny after New York Giants kicker Josh Brown made some startling revelations this week. Brown admitted to the team that he had abused his wife and was allowed to continue playing with the roster after serving a suspension from the league that lasted for only one game.

In a report posted by the New York Times, police documents showed that Brown had written about how he had physically, verbally, and emotionally abused his wife. The Giants removed him from their active roster, and he was suspended indefinitely by the league. Being suspended indefinitely would be enough to make most of us believe that he had been given a just punishment for his actions, but the real shocker here is that Brown will still be getting paid while serving his indefinite suspension.

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Brown was arrested in 2015 and was charged with assaulting his wife, Molly. Brown’s comments were made in journal entries and emails that were part of a marriage counseling exercise that the couple had undergone. The Browns have since divorced, and prosecutors have declined to bring up any charges.

Both the Giants organization and the league are currently reviewing how they handled the case and have asserted that they were not made aware of all the details until police released their files on Wednesday, thus, closing the legal case.

The true fallout of this incident stems from the NFL’s scattershot approach of how they decide whether or not to suspend a player, and for how long.

For instance, the six-game suspension rule has rarely been fully enforced. Only three out of 10 players who have been potentially affected by this rule have been served the entire six-game suspension.

In most cases, players who have been involved in domestic abuse cases have only been suspended for two or three games because of what the league likes to call “mitigating circumstances.” In the only case where a suspension lasting more than six games was imposed, former Dallas Cowboys defensive end Greg Hardy’s 10-game suspension was lowered down to four by an arbitrator that was appointed by the league itself.

In the case of Jeff Brown, however, it still remains unclear whether or not the Giants organization had informed the NFL that he told team officials about how he had been abusive to his wife, but the team stated that they were already aware of the abuse when they signed Brown to a two-year contract worth $4 million last April. After both the team and the league looked into the case, Brown was given a one-game suspension by the league.

This did not sit well with advocates for victims of domestic violence who said that the league could have imposed a much heavier ban on Brown had they taken a harder line early on in the case.

The Giants have been stung the most by this case as they had been seen at the forefront of helping raise more awareness about domestic violence. The team hosted an event to help raise awareness on domestic abuse during a home game against the Dallas Cowboys in October of last year. Volunteers from many advocacy groups, including My Sister’s Place, were the ones overseeing the turnstiles during that particular game.

The volunteers encouraged fans to use social media to speak out against domestic violence as part of their “No More” campaign which is championed by Law and Order: Special Victims Unit star Mariska Hargitay. Quarterback Eli Manning, former head coach Tom Coughlin, and Giants co-owner John. K. Mara were among the Giants members who made some service announcements for the campaign, and their messages were aired Metlife Stadium’s jumbo video screens during timeouts.

Mara, however, became the target of immense backlash after appearing in an interview with radio station WFAN where he conceded that Brown had admitted to abusing his wife to the Giants. He also mentioned that the team were not aware of the “extent of it,” suggesting that whether or not a player gets booted from the team all comes down to a matter of degree.

Outrage was almost immediately expressed on social media and the airwaves. Even the mother of Eli Apple, the team’s top pick from this year’s draft, vented her anger and frustration on her Twitter account.

According to Mara, Brown’s future with the Giants is still uncertain at this point.

[Featured Image by Charlie Riedel/AP Images]