Don’t take this post as anything other than a defense of reasonability, rationality, and a more-than-cursory examination of the facts and evidence.
I have now seen many high minded writers who cover the league declare flatly: “The NFL doesn’t care about women.” Or, if you are a snarky, edgy, let’s-cuss-to-punctuate-my-point writer… you say “The NFL Doesn’t Give A Shit About Women.”
Oh, the takes. So hot. So righteous.
A more reasonable opinion would be: “The NFL finally gets it on domestic abuse, but their policy on suspensions remains flawed and maybe counter-productive.”
But that won’t get much traction in our clickable media society.
To the critics of the league in this case, I simply ask: what would the NFL have to do in order to satisfy the ’they still don’t get it’ crowd? Ban Josh Brown for life, immediately? Issue threats to local law enforcement agencies to release case related documents against their policy?
Let’s start with the single act that got Josh Brown a one game suspension. A 911 call to their house, made by his then-wife Molly. Brown admitted to “grabbing the wrist” of his wife as she reached for the phone. The wrist had “redness and possibly a scratch” according to the police report. It did not need medical attention.
This is enough to get a man arrested on a call to 911 for domestic violence. Even if your wife threw a scalding hot frying pan of live bacon at your head.
The charges against Brown of 4th degree assault were quickly dropped, for reasons you’d expect. Molly did not want to push ahead with the case, and would you want to spend all that prosecutorial effort just to get a conviction of 4th degree wrist grabbing? Right.
So Josh Brown and Molly Brown decide to divorce. As part of that process, Brown agrees to go through counselling, with an NFLPA approved therapist. He does this in part because he thinks it’ll help his situation with his employer (the Giants) and the league, and in part because visitation rights to his daughter are contingent on this therapy.
There has to be SOME credit for him TRYING to do the right thing, no?
So all the while this plays out – over the course of a year and a half – the league does WHAT IT LEGALLY CAN to find out more. They contacted Molly Brown. She did not want to talk to them about it. They contacted the King County sheriff’s office through their contracted investigator. He was rebuffed.
Sure. The NFL could have had somebody in their own office CALL the sheriff to possibly get more “off the record” info on the case. But, and here’s the key thing: I bet the sheriff would have said there’s not much there! He might have told the NFL about the journal entries from Brown’s therapy sessions, while quickly adding there were no previous 911 calls, no actual injuries, and no provable evidence of those admissions of “physical” abuse.
Molly Brown claims some 20 incidents of “abuse.” General term. Some of it was verbal, others “emotional.” The physical episodes were being pushed down onto the carpet, pushed into a door, a bruised knee and a zipper-inflicted ouchie from a flung jacket.
However, it must be noted: these are CLAIMS. Not facts.
Brown also kicked in a bathroom door and got into the face of his step-son. If true, that’s bad. But how many games suspension do you get for that?
How many games should “verbal abuse” be subject to suspension?
In short, Josh Brown had some serious issues, and appears to admit he was an abusive shithead. Once his marriage broke apart, he took serious steps to become a better man. He did all he could, and has stayed out of trouble since the 911 call.
To me, that DID warrant a lesser suspension than the full 6 games the policy sets as a baseline for a first offense. To me, one game seemed fair – perhaps even a touch excessive.
Yet now, the release of his therapy journals and his ownership of his problem IS GOING TO BE USED AS FURTHER EVIDENCE AGAINST HIM! How insanely wrong is THAT? Do you think any NFL player NOW is going to admit to anything in therapy knowing it can be used ex-post-facto to possibly END HIS CAREER?
I would argue that in addition to the fact the league has earned ZERO media brownie points for any of their efforts – and have you seen the number of WOMEN VP’S they have hired since Ray Rice! – it’s also probable that the NFL is making things worse!
I don’t think the NFL “doesn’t care” about women or domestic violence. I think they care as much or more than any other private business cares. And they are also desperately trying to earn approval from an instant judgement, banish-the-evil-man-forever media.
They are failing. Badly.
Maybe they should just fold up their tent, and go back to what they do best: run a football league.