If you’re New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady, just three weeks removed from a four-game suspension at the end of a 630-day saga surrounding whether or not someone removed a fraction of a pound per square inch of air in some footballs, the NFL’s bungling of another domestic violence incident — this one involving New York Giants kicker Josh Brown — must be maddening.
Actually, this wasn’t just one domestic violence incident. It was more than 20, at least according to Molly Brown’s account of her ex-husband’s abuse to the King County (Wash.) Sheriff’s Office. The veteran kicker’s own journals, in which he wrote, “I have abused my wife,” and, “I viewed myself as God basically and she was my slave,” do not appear to conflict with his ex-wife’s testimony.
If you can’t see why Brady should be incensed by all this, you’re either blinded by Patriots hatred or Roger Goodell. So, WEEI-FM’s Kirk Minihane asked the four-time Super Bowl champion about it.
“I think it’s the league’s issue,” Brady said of Brown during his weekly sports radio appearance. “Obviously, there is a lot of controversy with that. I’m trying to stay out of all that. I’ll let them handle it. I think that’s their responsibility. I certainly don’t condone any part of domestic violence, and I think it’s a terrible, terrible thing, but I think the league has to handle those types of things.”
To his credit, Brady tried to avoid involving himself in the story, and to his credit, Minihane pressed him on it. Through laughter, which was seemingly in response to the notion that the league has handled disciplinary measures satisfactorily over the past several years, Brady ultimately relented.
“Domestic violence is a horrible issue,” he added. “It’s a tragedy when it happens. Any type of abuse or bullying of people who can’t defend themselves or fight for themselves, I have no respect for that. Like I said, the NFL claims to take tough stances, and this is their situation. This is their situation to deal with. I’ll let them deal with it.”
It’s Brady’s use of the word “claims” that offers insight into how he must feel about Goodell’s mishandling of yet another suspension. Indeed, Goodell has claimed to be tough on issues of domestic violence and sexual assault, saying in August 2014, “They have no place in the NFL and are unacceptable in any way, under any circumstances.” So, why then did he levy a one-game ban for Brown instead of the six games outlined in the new Personal Conduct Policy he touted two years ago?
We have our answer in Goodell’s response to a recent question from BBC reporter Richard Conway:
Conway: “The criticism that comes back to you is that people see punishments for touchdown celebrations but then only one game for a domestic violence incident. It must be very difficult to balance those things and explain them?”
Goodell: “They are. I understand the public’s misunderstanding of those things and how that can be difficult for them to understand how we get to those positions. But those are things that we have to do. I think it’s a lot deeper and a lot more complicated than it appears but it gets a lot of focus.”
There are only three reasons I can think of for Goodell’s “difficult for them to understand” stance : 1) He thinks we do not understand the league lacked definitive information in the Brown case, which flies in the face of both Brown’s admission of abuse to Mara and how Goodell handled deflate-gate; 2) He thinks we do not understand domestic violence is often a vicious cycle that finds its roots in childhood abuse of the perpetrator, as Brown contends it did, which neither excuses the behavior nor explains why Goodell chose a one-game suspension instead of six; or 3) He thinks we are stupid.
In which case, there’s an awful lot of us dumb folk wondering how Brown remains employed — and backed — by the Giants in light of more recent revelations detailing the kicker’s documented abuse, which finally resulted in the NFL placing Brown on the commissioner’s exempt list as he figures out how to spin a more harsh suspension before claiming to be tough on domestic abuse again.
Brown’s original one-game suspension in Week 1 of this season was specifically for his arrest on domestic violence assault charges in May 2015 — two months before he was arrested for violating the protective order his ex-wife placed against him, eight months before NFL personnel helped his family find a new hotel room when an allegedly drunken Brown pounded on their door at the Pro Bowl, and 11 months before the Giants gave him a two-year, $4 million contract extension.
It was also 10 months after the NFL suspended former Baltimore Ravens running back Ray Rice for just two games after his domestic violence abuse caught on tape — a penalty later adjusted to an indefinite ban once commissioner Roger Goodell admitted his mistake — nine months after the league instituted a new mandatory six-game suspension for first-time domestic batterers, and eight months after Giants owner John Mara said, “There is no place for domestic violence in our sport or our society, and we are committed to doing our part to prevent such heinous acts going forward.”
Meanwhile, the NFL spent millions of dollars and four months investigating Brady in deflate-gate. The league determined it was “more probable than not” the two-time MVP knew Patriots personnel deliberately deflated footballs — a determination since debunked by many highly educated scientists — and Goodell decided that was enough to suspend Brady for four games, fine the Patriots $1 million and take a pair of draft picks from the team. Despite ample evidence to the contrary, Goodell opted to uphold the decision upon appeal, bend the truth and even take Brady to court over the matter.
In other words, when it comes to air in footballs, Goodell was willing to overlook insufficient evidence and suspend Brady for four games, but when it comes to beating women, Goodell just didn’t have enough to go on to suspend Brown for more than a game. As the league said in a statement, “We concluded our investigation, more than a year after the initial incident, based on the facts and evidence available to us at the time and after making exhaustive attempts to obtain information in a timely fashion.” This despite Mara’s contention he was well aware of Brown’s pattern of abuse — and even “comfortable” enough with it — before his contract extension and one-game suspension.
Giants owner John Mara on Josh Brown: "He admitted to us he'd abused his wife in the past. What's a little unclear is the extent of that."
— Albert Breer (@AlbertBreer) October 20, 2016
So, maybe we are stupid. After all, we’re not the ones making $31.7 million a year, as Goodell did in 2015. If I were Brady, I’d be calling for the commissioner’s job, but I’m not Brady. I’m just a dummy.
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