#ImNotWatchingTheNFL

Here we are, going into the first week of July.  Baseball is getting ready for its All Star game, and many of my friends are all bitching on social media how they can’t wait for football season to start, because baseball is “too slow”.  As someone who grew up in the 60s playing baseball, and later as a fan, I tend to disagree, not that I think it’s too slow, but that I appreciate the pace of the game.

But my friends are addicted to the NFL, the hits, the contemporary game with lots of passing, and the non stop action.

Don’t count me among them.

Since the 2014 season, I’ve been boycotting the NFL.  Not only that, but I contact as many NFL game sponsors I can find, and let them know I’m boycotting their products as well.  What am I,  a Communist?  After all, NFL football has become “America’s Sport”.

Evidently, so has domestic violence…….

When did my boycott start?  Well, it started on February 15, 2014,  when Ray Rice and his then fiancée (now wife), Janay Palmer, were arrested and charged with assault after a physical altercation at the Revel Casino in Atlantic City, New Jersey. Rice and Palmer were both highly intoxicated during the incident. Celebrity news website TMZ posted a video of Rice dragging Palmer out of an elevator after apparently knocking her out.  The Ravens issued a statement following TMZ’s release of the video, calling Rice’s domestic violence arrest a “serious matter”. The matter was “handled” by the Atlantic County Prosecutor’s Office.

rice-video-football

Now, I LIVED in Atlantic County for a good portion of my life.  I’ve seen people both prosecuted and jailed for things far less heinous than what Ray Rice did.  Sure, the grand jury indicted Rice on charges of third degree aggravated assault, but after marrying Palmer, the charges were dropped after Rice agreed to undergo court-supervised counseling.  What did Roger Goodell do?  He suspended Rice for the first TWO games of the 2014 football season.

two

In a subsequent news conference announcing longer suspension lengths for future domestic violence incidents, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell said that he “didn’t get it right” in deciding Rice’s punishment.  I’ll say you didn’t get it right.  But I wasn’t the only person to say that.  In September 2014, The National Organization for Women called for Goodell’s resignation, and asked for an independent investigator to look into how the Rice incident was handled.  This was right before the season began, and it was at that time I felt a need to take a stand.

I began to message the NFL, Roger Goodell, and the teams, in an effort to let them know that I wasn’t going to watch a game until the NFL came up with more stringent policies regarding domestic violence.  Evidently no one cared about how I felt, because I never received a reply, not from the NFL, not from Goodell, and not from any of the 32 NFL teams.

I’m not going to lie.  I enjoy watching the game (still like baseball more), and it was difficult to avoid NFL games in the 2014-15 season.  Despite that, I felt it needed to be done.  In doing so, I had an opportunity to begin to look at the culture of domestic violence that exists in the NFL.

Let’s be realistic.  The NFL seems to have a higher crime/arrest rate than any other profession, enough that a website exists called NFL Arrest.  Here’s one of their most recent charts, a 5 year record of NFL arrests.

NFL Arrests since 2012

This site is so detailed, you could actually review by team the individual arrest records.  If you decide to do that, be prepared to spend some time, because there are a LOT of them.  By the way, the green bars are domestic violence offenses, and keep in mind that many DV cases get dropped, sometimes because they’re $ettled, sometimes due to physical intimidation, and sometimes from NFL pressure.

So Roger Goodell instituted a “policy” in late 2014 that would  suspend domestic violence offenders for six games for a first policy violation and a lifetime ban for a second.  Funny thing, though…The NFL appears to have enforced its “baseline” six-game suspension against just two of 18 players publicly linked to domestic violence allegations since Goodell announced the new policy.  Don’t believe me, though.  Read this article from Bleacher Report, who goes into much greater detail that I can in this blog.

I’m not going to discuss the individual cases.  They’re far too ugly to get into here.  Let’s just say that I have read all of them, looked at the photos, and can’t help but wonder why the green bars in the chart above haven’t gone away completely.  I also don’t think that the problem (despite what they say, the NFL doesn’t think it is) is going away any time soon.  Why do I say that?  Keep reading.

In April of this year, Oklahoma receiver Dede Westbrook was picked by the Jaguars in the fourth round. He has multiple accusations of violence against him involving the mother of his children. Though Westbrook never convicted of a crime, the stories are ugly, it’s been said he was accused of throwing the woman to the ground and, in another case, punching her in the face.

Also, Cleveland drafted Florida defensive lineman Caleb Brantley, who just two weeks before the draft, was charged with battery after ALLEGEDLY punching a woman in a bar, and knocking her unconscious. Brantley is 6’2″ and 307 pounds. The woman he allegedly hit is 5’6″ and 120 pounds.  The Browns management expressed “concern about the matter”, but drafted him anyway.

And of course, let’s not forget Joe Mixon, who entered an Alford plea to a misdemeanor assault charge in October 2014 for punching a woman named Amelia Molitor that caused broken bones in her face which required hospitalization and surgery.  His “punishment”?  He dropped from the first round of draft picks to the second, where he was ultimately signed by the Cincinnati Bengals.

Mixon “apologized” after the incident, but I have to wonder if he was sorry for the later incident in 2016.  In that one, after receiving a parking citation, Mixon confronted the parking office, tore the citation in half, and threw the pieces, which hit her in the face. According to the incident report, he then “inched at the officer” with his vehicle in an effort to intimidate her.

“But Phil, what about major league baseball?  Isn’t there abuse in the MLB, and what are THEY doing about it, and why aren’t you boycotting THEM?”  Pretty simple, really.  First, the DV rates in major league baseball are significantly lower than in the NFL.  Second, the policy regarding domestic violence (agreed to by the Major League Baseball Players Association, I might add) is much stronger in terms of how it handles domestic violence cases.  Again, don’t believe me, read their policy (here), and compare it to the JOKE known as the NFL’s domestic violence policy.

So while the fans are preparing for the NFL 2017-2018 season, I’ll be watching the MLB All Star Game, and in the following two weeks will be doing my research to see who is supporting an organization that is basically rubber stamping domestic violence by their acquiescence, as women get nearly beaten to death by players who are introduced into a culture of violence against women that I believe starts as early as high school.

I have a 14 year old son who will be entering his freshman year in high school, and it’s his intention to play football in high school as well as college.  He will not be engaging in any activity that is detrimental to women, to himself, and his understanding of how things work in this world, not the way they “work” in the NFL.

Enjoy your football season……..

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