Over numerous years we have seen the NFL/NCAA make a tremendous joke out of domestic violence–to be simple, it’s a slap in the face to fans, victims, and society. In many types of basic interviews criminal history is frequently required to be released, college applications ask and so do most jobs. Although most employers require the release of a person’s criminal history, they all vary on approach of hiring between violent and non violent offenders. But, there is no doubting there is a deviation. No one would bat an eye if an employer were to hire someone without a criminal record over someone with a record, yet the NFL embraces the versa.
La’el Collins, a consensus top 100 pick out of LSU, went undrafted after he was named to be a suspect in the murder of his ex- girlfriend. 256 times during the draft, NFL teams said “no” to drafting La’el, and they had every right to. Yet prior to this Greg Hardy was deemed a risk worth taking for the Cowboys. The details and images in his case were absolutely horrifying yet the Cowboys still signed him, and after an outburst during a game they got a glimpse of the Hardy that Nicole Holder had warned of. Teams still took looks at Hardy after this– regretfully even my own team took time out of their day to interview a man without an ounce of remorse for his actions.
Clinton McDonald was also a player accused of domestic violence with the 49ers, yet the Bears signed him after his release and he was arrested again for a similar offense. Bruce Miller, a teammate of McDonald , was arrested for allegedly pushing his fiancé and smashing her phone, but he faced no criminal charges because of “a lack of physical evidence.” The issue still remains: Where does the NFL draw the line? Is physical and verbal intimidation from a 6’2 250 pound fullback not enough to warrant a punishment not even a single game suspension ? Greg Hardy, Bruce Miller, and Clinton McDonald are prime examples of guys who were not punished properly and went on to continue their transgressions with more arrests. How is it that the league unanimously blackballed Ray Rice yet Junior Galette can beat a woman repeatedly with a belt and still get a contract?
The NFL/NCAA has to legitimately address the idea of a league wide ,no tolerance domestic violence policy with an indefinite suspension determined by the victim(s) and team(s).This is for the protection of the players, the fans, and the future integrity of the sport. The NFL/NCAA cannot overlook the basic moral compass that guides us all any longer, and these players must be held accountable for their actions. If one school dismisses a player for assaulting two female students, what kind of morals does it take for another school to give said student a scholarship, a potential roster spot, and a chance at being drafted?
There is also a major inconsistency in the fact that players being investigated for sexual assault are immediately suspended indefinitely, but players being investigated for domestic violence may still practice and play such as Former Fsu running back Karlos Williams. He was involved in a domestic violence incident where the mother of his two children Miranda Wilhelm posted images of her battered and bruised arms on Facebook and an investigation was launched. While no suspension was levied ,is being accused of domestic violence no less serious than being accused of sexual assault?
Mishandling of domestic violence cases also begs the question of what these men are being taught by the NCAA and NFL. To me, it blatantly states that the integrity of football doesn’t matter as long as you’re good at the sport and the sport makes money. The NCAA will not pay athletes but they will fight for them tooth and nail in court so that they can play and allow their brand of football to succeed . The NFL must work hand in hand with the NCAA in determining how to move forward with players who have been charged/accused of these crimes. It should be disgusting to fans/players/coaches that in some of these cases, such as the one involving Dorial Green-beckham, the victim requested for charges not to be filed and was explicitly identified as “not pursuing charges due to FEAR of retaliation.” How can you beat someone into mental and physical submission and face no consequences? The NFL punishes players who use drugs/alcohol more harshly than players who beat their partner.
The lack of punishment concerning domestic violence involving NFL and College players is fine-tuning players to forget that good character plays a big part in being drafted and that being drafted is an immense privilege. The NCAA has already seen a litany of teams looking the other way from bad player conduct. Florida was a leader in arrests at the height of its program and that is completely unacceptable wins do not matter more than being decent human beings. Seems like Tebow was the red herring to headaches that littered Floridas roster like Percy harvin ,Aaron Hernandez, Janoris Jenkins and Will Hill this shouldn’t be tolerated by any program. Chris Rainey was a star player for Florida allowed to return to the gators after sending a text to his girlfriend saying “time to die’. This was an egregious mistake by the NCAA, Urban Meyer , Chris Rainey, the NFL and the steelers who later on drafted him. There cannot continue to be a defaming of the sport of football . These players need to be held accountable on and off the field. It’s a privilege to wear the pads and helmet. Players, coaches, and fans are supposed to be able to have pride in their teams and the people who make up those teams, staff included, and not properly dealing with these domestic violence and criminal situations is a disservice to them all. Tyreek Hill, Dorial Green-Beckham, and Frank Clark were all drafted after being dismissed from Oklahoma St., Mizzou, and Michigan respectively, but them being drafted reinforced the fact that as long as a player can produce or has potential, the NFL will look away. This is a down right asinine trend throughout the NFL and NCAA.
While I personally believe in the power of forgiveness, the NFL has to make this a one strike deal with immense consequences on players in the league and players entering the league. The NFL has found a way to turn support for breast cancer and military veterans practically into business but still has not fully addressed the league policy concerning degradation of domestic partners and violence against those partners.
While a clear solution to this problem is not present I believe that future players who have committed this mistake should lead the charge and change for the policy. Guys like Joe Mixon, Deandre Johnson, and Jeffrey Simmons are high profile guys who cannot take back their errors but they can commit to a cause of preventing others from making the same mistakes and create a change in the future of the NCAA/NFL.