NFL still has issue with domestic violence

Photo courtesy of Edwin Bristow

Photo courtesy of Edwin Bristow

Lindsey Dancy
   Staff Writer

Who wouldn’t want to date a professional football player?  Making it in the major sports is the equivalent of winning the lottery these days, as  of 2013, the average NFL player is paid $1.3 million. On the outside looking in this world of glamour and fame, it might seem appealing to the masses, however; popularity and wealth cannot save someone from the disturbing trend which has come out of the NFL.

American Football is known as one of the most violent and aggressive sports in history. Because of how brutal the game is, it is unfortunate and tragic that some in the game have taken the roughness on the field into their own homes. Recently, the members of the NFL community has been struck with the tragedy of domestic violence, and there is not being enough done to prevent it.

Sports and players alike appeal to fans of all over the country because they feel they can relate to them on some intimate level. And because of this affection, some fans have been slow to rightfully condemn these athletes who have committed domestic violence. For instance, All-Pro Minnesota Vikings star Adrian Peterson, is still a beloved figure, even though he recently avoided jail time after domestic violence allegations. The All-Pro running back was indicted in September on a felony charge of injury to a child after the incident in early 2014 in Houston, Texas.

Peterson is one of small number of NFL players who have been involved in domestic violence cases in the past year. This list includes: former Carolina Panthers, now Dallas Cowboy defensive end Greg Hardy, former Arizona Cardinals running back Jonathan Dwyer and former Baltimore Ravens running back Ray Rice.

Most infamously, after receiving plenty of criticism for giving Rice only a two-game suspension, the NFL and Commissioner Roger Goodell  announced that the league would toughen their domestic violence policy.

The problem reached its peak when, as attention to the issue rose considerably in early September 2014, when a video surfaced showing Rice knocking out his then-fiancée and now wife in a casino elevator; he soon was cut by the Ravens and indefinitely released by the league.

Peterson has said he never intended to harm his son and was disciplining him in the same way he had as a kid. His son suffered cuts, marks and bruising to his thighs, back and one of his testicles.

With allegations of heinous acts committed by such acclaimed athletes, domestic violence training has been provided, however the players themselves do not believe the training is actually accomplishing anything.

The NFL created their own training in response to the public outcry over the unsatisfactory way the league handled these and other disciplinary issues. Domestic violence, child abuse and sexual assault were combined into one program created by Anna Isaacson, who serves as the VP of Social Responsibility. Isaacson was appointed to that position in September 2014.

After players were enforced to attend to numerous seminars provided by Isaacson and her disciplinary team, the most common opinion was that the program’s tone treated the players as a group of “perpetrators” instead of as individuals. One player even revealed that he felt guilty after walking out of his seminar even though he hadn’t done anything wrong.

However the NFL is quickly running out of excuses as to why they cannot control the behavior of their players in regards to domestic violence.

Former Panthers player Greg Hardy’s suspension for domestic violence was reduced from 10 games to four, which once again resulted in another case of the NFL’s poor disciplinary process. Hardy’s acts sets up the first true test of the league’s promise to get serious in punishing players who commit acts of violence against women and children.

Any reasonable person can agree that choking a woman and throwing her onto a pile of assault rifles deserves more than a four-game suspension. Hardy, now a Dallas Cowboy, was found guilty of that exact crime, but his conviction was  overturned when his victim failed to appear at his appeal.

And what the biggest issue with this case, along with the biggest issue with domestic violence and the NFL, was his attitude about the situation. Outside of Rice, between Peterson and Hardy, both have presented arrogant attitudes about their acts. As if, they believe they did not deserve to be punish. And this is what the problem is. Though domestic violence is a despicable act, at least Rice has tried to raise awareness about the problem. But, seemingly, there are more Petersons and Hardy’s who feel their behavior is not as problematic as it truly is. And unless the NFL decides to discipline and train their players rather than coddle them, then domestic violence will not be solved.

Categories: Pro Sports, Sports

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