Let me state this plainly: the NFL and many of its clubs – I won’t say all – do not care about domestic violence.
They care about paying lip service to domestic violence, through the “No More” campaign and donating tax-deductible money to groups meant to help victims of domestic violence and the institution of a new get-tough rule nearly two years ago meant to severely punish players involved in domestic violence incidents.
They care about public perception. And they remain reactive, more willing to appease the masses than do what’s right from the beginning.
But when it comes right down to it, the league, and in this case, the New York Giants, do not care.
Or, more likely, the Giants would pretend to care if their kicker, Josh Brown, was missing attempts with any frequency.
But the Giants don’t care that Brown is an admitted wife-beater, not as long as he’s converted 11-of-12 field goal attempts this season.
And NFL commissioner Roger Goodell, well, he is apparently more concerned with how players celebrate touchdowns than how violently they touch their significant others.
That’s the message they’re sending right now to the wives, girlfriends and partners of players across the league, and to women who call themselves fans of the Giants and the NFL.
They don’t care.
As of midday Thursday, Brown is still on the New York roster, even after multiple media outlets published stories on Wednesday night containing new information on the breadth of Brown’s abhorrent behavior – in his own words – toward his now-ex-wife, Molly, during their time together.
Among other things, in a hand-written journal entry attributed to Josh Brown, he wrote and circled, “I HAVE abused my wife.” He also confessed to being “physically, emotionally and verbally” abusive toward Molly in a “contract for change” dated March 28, 2013.
In the same document Josh Brown wrote, “I have controlled her (by) making her feel less human than me, and manipulated her with money.”
In all, there are well over 100 pages of documents, released by the King County (Wash.) Sheriff’s Office this week; the documents were submitted as evidence by Molly Brown after Josh Brown’s May 2015 arrest when he was charged with fourth-degree domestic violence.
(The New York Daily News has all of the documents here.)
On Thursday afternoon, reporters who cover the team were tweeting that the team knew nothing of the new documents released on Wednesday, and there is a report that some of the documents were not made available until Wednesday.
But what of the information the league and the team did have? The day Josh Brown was arrested was the second time in as many days Molly Brown had called police. A couple of weeks later, Molly sat down with a detective, an advocate and a court official and gave a lengthy history of Josh’s behavior.
Molly alleged 20 instances of violence by Josh, and she had called police in nearly every city the couple lived in together, as he played for the Seahawks, Rams, Bengals and Giants.
And still, Josh Brown only received a one-game suspension from the NFL, and nothing but public support from the Giants.
In January, after he was announced as the Giants’ head coach, Ben McAdoo sat down with the New York Post’s Steve Serby. Serby asked McAdoo, “What won’t you tolerate as head coach?”
McAdoo’s answer? “Domestic violence is something that we’re all cracking down on in this league. That’s something that’s important to us as an organization, important to me as a man, and important to me as a coach.”
But yet, in August, when the first police documents came to light, McAdoo stood by his kicker.
It’s important to McAdoo as a coach in an interview, but not in practice.
Giants owner John Mara told reporters the team was “certainly aware” of Brown’s arrest when it signed him to a two-year extension in 2015 and was “comfortable” doing so.
When the first batch of documents was reported in August, the league released a statement that in part blamed Molly for the slap on the wrist Josh received. Molly hadn’t sat down with league investigators, the league said, even as it admitted that it had seen arrest reports and Molly’s interview with the detective, advocate and court official.
So Goodell gave Brown one game.
One game, when the NFL’s own rule says the baseline suspension for a first-time domestic violence is six games without pay.
We’ve seen this before from Goodell. He initially gave Ray Rice a two-game suspension, but then when the video came out that showed Rice clearly decking his then-fiancée in an Atlantic City elevator, he found God, so to speak – and heard and saw the furor of fans and media aghast at the two-game decision – and decided to suspend Rice indefinitely.
There is no video of what Josh Brown did to Molly Brown. Video should not be the standard by which the NFL operates in such situations. We do now have more detailed information, including Josh’s own words.
So now the Giants and NFL might be outraged? Please.
The league released a statement saying it will “thoroughly review the additional information and determine the next steps in the context of the NFL Personal Conduct Policy.”
Just spare us. This is Ray Rice all over again. If Brown is suspended further, or – gasp! – if the Giants release him, the moves would purely be for PR.
You know it, they know it, I know it: by and large, the NFL and its teams don’t care about domestic violence.