There is nothing more American than football (not even baseball); so it’s safe to say the NFL is an extension of American society as we know it – entertainment, competition, violence, “paytriotism”, and lots of money to be made by white men perched in an ivory tower. 2 years ago in October – Domestic Violence Awareness Month, I wrote that America Doesn’t Hate #DomesticViolence, America only hates SEEING domestic violence – in the wake of the Ray Rice elevator footage that resulted in his ban from the NFL indefinitely. Read: “footage”.
Before we had visual proof of the paralyzing blow Baltimore Ravens runningback Rice delivered to his then fiancé, we knew what had happened in the elevator. We knew she got on the elevator conscious with her soon to be husband, and was dragged off the elevator unconscious with a black eye. And yet the NFL penalty was only a 2 game suspension…that is until WE (read: the public) saw the knockout punch.
Since then, the NFL has instituted a standard 6 game suspension for any domestic violence offender. In the 2 years since there have been 10 incidents, but only three 6-game suspensions levied against those offenders, one of them being an assistant coach who doesn’t have the benefit of a union to contest his suspension, and none since September 2015.
In walks Josh Brown, New York Giants kicker, who has been suspended 1 game for beating his wife, multiple times. The league knows he’s a repeat abuser and he’s admitted to team leadership that he beats his wife; yet he gets 1 game in October, Domestic Violence Awareness Month which the NFL ignores completely in the shadow of Breast Cancer Awareness Month.
Here’s what’s going to happen next: the NFL will increase his suspension to the standard 6 games or even indefinitely, not because they suddenly grew a conscious – they’ve had all the information we’re just receiving and determined it only warranted a 1 game suspension. They are going to increase his suspension because of the public outcry that is turning into a PR nightmare for the NFL. In fact, as I write these very words, Josh Brown has been placed on the NFL Commissioners exemption list.
But the NFL still doesn’t care about domestic violence, they care about ratings (which have suffered this season as a result of Colin Kaepernick’s protest). Our outrage is warranted, and when the NFL increases Josh Brown’s suspension as a result of it- we’ll feel like we’ve accomplished something – like we’ve changed something – but we won’t. We’ll just have forced the hand of the other God we worship on Sundays to protect its reputation, until the next assault.