Friday, October 21, 2016

Roger Goodell Leads the New Gang That Couldn't Shoot Straight

Welp, it appears that Roger Goodell, the NFL, and the "New York Football Giants" are auditioning for a remake of The Gang That Couldn't Shoot Straight with their handling of (soon to be former) Giants kicker Josh Brown. Brown had been arrested in Seattle in May 2015 for domestic violence and served a one game suspension at the start of the current season. After I wrote this post Wednesday, news broke that Brown admitted: domestic violence in letters, emails and a journal, according to police documents.

The documents were part of Brown's final case file by the King County (Washington) Sheriff's Office stemming from a May 22, 2015, arrest following an incident with his wife, Molly Brown. The sheriff's office and prosecutor's office initially decided to postpone the filing of charges, pending further investigation, with the sheriff's office recommending that the prosecutor's office file charges of two counts of fourth-degree domestic assault. As of September 2016, charges had not been filed.

In one of Brown's journal entries obtained as part of the investigation, he writes: "I have abused my wife."
Of course, the NFL is blaming the King County Sheriff's Office for not providing them information, a charge the Sheriff is refuting:
The NFL said its investigators had repeatedly attempted to obtain more information on Brown but were denied by the King County Sheriff John Urquhart's office.

Urquhart told Seattle radio station KIRO on Thursday that the investigator never identified himself as being part of the league.

"NFL, National Football League,' he could have [said] any of that," Urquhart said. "Robert Agnew,, post office box in Woodinville. We had no idea who this yokel is."
Now, the NFL's 'Domestic Violence Policy' calls for a six game suspension for a "first offense" (could it really be a first offense for an abuser by the time he is in the NFL?). Brown's initial suspension makes a mockery of that policy, especially when John Mara, co-owner of the Giants:
...told New York radio station WFAN that he was aware of the abuse but after speaking with Brown, decided to re-sign the kicker to a two-year, $4 million contract.
Just as with the Ray Rice case from two years ago, now that news has broken about how abusive Brown actually was, Goodell and his minions are attempting to spin things and pretend to "take it seriously":
“We take this issue incredibly seriously,” Goodell said. “This is something we've been working on with policy changes, to educating our players to make sure they understand how they deal with issues with their family, give them resources to be able to deal with this. But when it happens, we’re not going to tolerate it. So we have some new information here, we’ll evaluate that in the context of our policy, and we’ll take it from there.”

Asked if he’s disappointed in the Giants and an investigatory process that didn’t uncover more details, Goodell told the BBC: “That’s why we’d like to speak to the people involved, whether it’s the victim or the people involved that may have information, including law enforcement. But we understand that in certain cases, they may not be permitted to talk to us or want to talk to us, and we don’t make judgments on people where they do that. What we want to do is get the facts, and when we get the facts, we’re going to aggressively pursue that, and we’ll apply our policy.”
Uh huh.

From the New York Times:
Advocates for domestic violence victims said the league could have taken a harder line earlier in the case.

“If the mitigating factors were that his ex-wife didn’t cooperate, we know that many victims don’t want to cooperate,” said Judy Harris Kluger, the executive director of Sanctuary for Families, an organization based in Manhattan that helps victims of domestic violence. “That should not have precluded the N.F.L. from acting. They should have learned that by now.”


Critics question whether the efforts the N.F.L. took to address domestic violence were tough enough, as the league weighs the removal of key players from the field against satisfying victims’ advocates who urge no tolerance for any abuse.

“Goodell can say, ‘This is our standard, and we look at each case individually,’” said Mark Conrad, the director of the sports business program at Fordham University. “But if the range of penalties is that high, it calls into question how tough the policy is.”

The case has in particular stung the Giants, a team that had been seen at the forefront of raising awareness of the domestic violence problem.
At this point, I'm not sure if there is anything at all that Goodell and the NFL can do to gain credibility about Domestic Violence. This article from Yahoo Sports lists at least three other domestic violence incidents (besides Brown's) in the two years since Ray Rice. At this point, Goodell and the NFL need to quit with the pink spectacle PR and concentrate on the internal problem of abusive players or Jovan Belcher will be the norm.

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

It's October and Pink Is Everywhere - But Where's Purple?

October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month and the color pink seems to be everywhere. October is also Domestic Violence Awareness Month and the color purple is conspicuous by its absence.

Over the years, I have written about both causes but looking back, I guess I have written more about Domestic Violence just because there's such a concentration on Breast Cancer Awareness (here, here (both topics), and here.) Just as an example of the disparity, a Google search of "breast cancer awareness month 2016" brings 49.7 million hits in .44 seconds; "domestic violence awareness month 2016" brings 2.7 million hits in .51 seconds. is the source of the following (repeated from my post from 2014):

Every 9 seconds in the US a woman is assaulted or beaten.

Around the world, at least one in every three women has been beaten, coerced into sex or otherwise abused during her lifetime. Most often, the abuser is a member of her own family.

Domestic violence is the leading cause of injury to women—more than car accidents, muggings, and rapes combined.

Studies suggest that up to 10 million children witness some form of domestic violence annually.

Nearly 1 in 5 teenage girls who have been in a relationship said a boyfriend threatened violence or self-harm if presented with a breakup.
Until I did the most recent Google search, about the only references that I had seen anywhere to Domestic Violence Awareness this month were this article and Q&A from the authors of the book When Love Hurts and some Facebook posts from New Hampshire State Representative Suzanne Harvey and the New Hampshire Coalition Against Domestic and Sexual Violence. This is not acceptable to me. I have a second cousin who was killed in a domestic violence "incident." I have multiple friends who have been victims of domestic violence. It is never an easy topic for them to discuss and it is a topic that makes many folks uncomfortable because it is such a personal issue, yet that is precisely why we need to raise the awareness and bring the issue into the light.

When I wrote my post two years ago I was (cautiously) optimistic that domestic violence awareness was coming more to the fore after the Ray Rice incident. In hindsight, I have to say I'm not surprised that the NFL has seemed to do very little to acknowledge domestic violence since then. Disappointed maybe but not surprised. But then again, Roger Goodell has shown his absolute cluelessness in many ways so the idea that Breast Cancer Awareness is front and center for the NFL while Domestic Violence Awareness is nowhere to be found should not be at all surprising to anyone. His ostrich/turtle approach to this issue reflects nothing so much as a hope that people won't look too closely behind the curtain (can we say 'roid rage?' Why yes, yes we can.)

I have no solutions other than continuing to shine the light where it has been dark.

And because I can: