Over the past few weeks, everyone — for whatever reason — has chimed in with their thoughts on why the NFL is experiencing low television viewership: too many commercials, bad refereeing, no star faces, over saturation
of the product, uninteresting matchups, and on and on. I know we feel it’s imperative that we get to the bottom of why people aren’t tuning in to watch NFL games (not like there’s an election at stake or real life issues we could be worrying or anything), but can we put all that on hold for just a minute and talk about a real problem the NFL has?
In fact, this problem is the reason we should turn off our TVs — but we won’t (but that’s a conversation for another day).
By now, many of you have at least heard the name Josh Brown. Whether you saw the story on TMZ or read snippets of the horrid details in the New York Post or USA Today or any other media outlet for that matter. And if you haven’t, allow me to bring you up to speed.
Brown, a 37-year old veteran placekicker who’s been in the league since 2003, admitted in emails and letters that were originally dated 2014 and 2015, but were just made public this week, that he “physically, emotionally, and verbally” abused his then-wife Molly. In his own words, Brown described himself as “God” and his wife as his “slave”, as he reflected, therapeutically, on his behavior — which also included sexual deviance, an addiction to sex and pornography, and a belief that the money he made gave him the right to mistreat and look lowly upon his wife.
Brown was suspended in 2015 for one game — not a typo — one game for an incident in May of that year involving his wife. But the public didn’t know all the background and sordid details that make this much more than a one-time occurrence. However, guess who did know? The New York Giants. And, of course, the NFL.
The New York Giants ownership failed to either recognize the severity of domestic abuse or just plain didn’t care. In an interview with WFAN radio in New York this week, Giants owner John Mara said, “Certainly he admitted to us that he abused his wife.” And in 2015 after the incident was made public and the one-game suspension came down, Mara told the New York Post in August, “A lot of times there is a tendency to try to make these cases black and white. They are very rarely black and white.”
I’m no lawyer, no investigative journalist, no police detective — but this seems pretty black and white. It certainly is more black and white than the Deflategate saga that the commissioner, Roger Goodell, made into his own personal “Most Dangerous Game”. You’ll devote one and a half years of time, effort, energy, resources, and money into bringing down one of your star players for something that was found to be “more probable than not”, but you won’t spend a day or a week talking to people who may be able to shed more light on a player who has mental problems and a propensity for beating women?
Heck, Goodell’s job didn’t even have to be that difficult, if he chose to look more deeply at Brown. The NFL had it’s own records from the 2015 Pro Bowl, where security was called on Brown and officials had to relocate Brown’s estranged wife and children after the player showed up at their hotel room. Where were the interviews? Where were the witness accounts? Where was the victim’s story? Where were the victim’s children’s stories?
Where was the commissioner?
The NFL’s investigative team either didn’t do adequate follow-up from Brown’s suspension in ’15 or they didn’t do much investigating after the incident at the Pro Bowl. Or both. And then fast forward to now.
Reports surface, evidence gets made public and the NFL looks like they didn’t treat such a sensitive and serious issue with the proper handling that it required.
But, hey. Who can blame the NFL suits in the New York City offices for not being all over this? They’re dealing with very important matters like determining how much money to fine a player for a touchdown celebration or what penalty to impress upon a player when he wears cleats that don’t match the color scheme that the NFL requires.
Oh, but most importantly, Goodell and company are preoccupied with their month-long “October Pink Out”, where players, coaches, referees, ball boys, video technicians, crowd control staff, commentators, and anyone else they can force into partaking in this sham wear pink wristbands, socks, gloves, hats, and blinders (oops) to show just how much the league cares about women.
So see? The commissioner has a lot on his plate.
Feedback is always welcome through the website in the comments box or on my Twitter feed — @brian22goodwin.