Football is regarded a classic American pastime and is beloved by millions of fans. Many people have a certain team that they love and are loyal to, as well as certain players they root for; however an epidemic has spread around the football universe, and it has been oddly specific and reoccurring.
Domestic violence is classified as violent or aggressive behavior within the home, typically among spouses or partners. Domestic violence can be emotional, mental, sexual and physical. In recent years, it has been revealed that not only is domestic violence prevalent within the NFL but that the NFL does not have a problem with domestic violence.
These crimes have been committed as recently as this year. Just a few domestic violence abusers and suspects in the NFL include former Baltimore Ravens running back Ray Rice, former Denver Broncos running back Montee Ball, former Kansas City Chiefs defensive tackle Roy Miller, former New York Giants offensive tackle Michael Bowie, Dallas Cowboys running back Ezekiel Elliott, Minnesota Vikings defensive back Tramaine Brock and, most recently, San Fransisco 49ers linebacker Reuben Foster.
Football fanatic Mike Doyle, a junior secondary education history major at Cabrini, thinks the NFL should develop a system for dealing with domestic abuse and stand by it.
“I feel like the NL is really soft and inconsistent on how they handle these cases,” Doyle said. “I wish they would come up with a harsh blanket penalty for everyone and enforce it.”
On Aug. 18 of 2017, Bowie was accused of grabbing his girlfriend by the neck and violently throwing her on the ground in Tulsa, Okla.
Bowie, a member of the New York Giants at the time, turned himself in after a warrant was issued, according to Tulsa County jail records, but soon posted bond and was released. He was, however, waived by the Giants after his warrant was issued. The outcome of the charges against Bowie were not yet determined.
Alternatively, Tramaine Brock was accused of punching and strangling his girlfriend in California. After he was bailed out by the 49ers, the charges were dropped due to insignificant evidence, despite the woman having visible altercations to her face. he continued to play for the 49ers and, subsequently, the Minnesota Vikings.
Ray Rice, who was filmed striking his wife at an Atlantic City casino, initially received a two-game suspension followed by a short-lived indefinite suspension. Though the NFL lifted his suspension, the Ravens released him from their team back in 2014 and he has not played in the league since.
Avid football fan Johnny Myers, a junior writing major with a minor in theatre at Cabrini, feels that, while the team made the right call with releasing Rice, the league should have done more.
“I think the Ravens took appropriate action in cutting him from the team,” Myers said. “As for the NFL, I think they were wrong in lifting his suspension. Domestic violence is a serious issue that shouldn’t be taken lightly.”
The NFL has a track record of very lightly investigating and punishing players suspected of domestic and dating violence.
The most recent case on domestic violence occurred with Foster, who was arrested on Feb. 11, suspected of domestic violence, possessing an assault rifle and making criminal threats.
Myers predicts this will impact Foster’s career.
“I think Reuben Foster will be released by the 49ers and [will face suspension],” Myers said. “If his tentative suspension is lifted, I think he will have a tough time finding work again.”
The way the NFL treats women and the men who abuse them is inexcusable.
While these are some recent cases to show that football players still get treated with ease through the justice system (and in their careers), cases similar to these have been happening forever. In most cases, the most that will happen to a football player charged with a domestic violence crime is suspension or the termination of their contracts with their current team, and too often they face no punishment at all.
Treating football players like they are above the law is far too common in the U.S., and this history of leniency is damaging to victims, fans and the country when the only person it should be damaging to is the one committing the crime.
Though some fans think they can combat the NFL’s light handling of domestic abuse through boycotting, Doyle think it’s the league that needs to enact change.
“It’s a billion dollar industry and they already have all their TV money,” Doyle said. “You’ll also never get enough people to stop watching so that it’ll matter.”