NFL Domestic Violence Policy, a Three Sided Coin

Many news agencies are applauding the new stance that NFL (National Football League) Commissioner Roger Goodell has taken on domestic abuse by members of this organization and while I can clearly see why, there are still two other sides of this coin that seems to be lost in the conversation.

In his article titled “N.F.L. Domestic Violence Policy Toughened in Wake of Ray Rice Case”, Ken Belson wrote “In a rare mea culpa, N.F.L. Commissioner Roger Goodell said Thursday that he had mishandled the Ray Rice case, in which the Baltimore Ravens running back was suspended for two games after being accused of assaulting his fiancée.”  “My disciplinary decision led the public to question our sincerity, our commitment and whether we understood the toll that domestic violence inflicts on so many families,” Goodell said in a letter to team owners. “I take responsibility both for the decision and for ensuring that our actions in the future properly reflect our values. I didn't get it right. Simply put, we have to do better. And we will.”
Now whether he should be granted a pat on the back for his admission or not is not the question.  Nor is the question whether or not Ray Rice should be made to pay more of a penalty for it.  The question is what are we willing to do about the other issues presented by this particular coin and can we address them before it becomes too late and someone has to suffer more than any human being should?

The exact opposite side of this coin are those instances where abuse is not reported due to family and job security.  The willingness to offer a sort of “out of court settlement” to the abused party in order not to see this printed in some media form whether in print or on the internet.  Maybe the abused person begins to feel that this was a problem brought on by them and the other party does not deserve to pay for it.  Maybe the abused party see it as what will happen to the family if the primary breadwinner loses his/her job and maybe it is those within the organization that gets to the abused party first and imply that all can be fixed by throwing money at it.  Either way, it must be made clear that no human being has the right to put their hands on another for any reason and if that is the choice that he/she makes, then there must be some form of proper punishment that fits the crime.

The third and often overlooked side of that same coin is those who purposely set out to entice professional athletes or anyone else into committing the crime of domestic abuse.  To say that this never happen means that you are either not paying attention or you still have your head in the sand.  Listen closely to the group as you apparently haven’t and you will hear some people bragging about ruining the career or life of another person.  These individuals made it a point to push and push until they got the desired actions and reaction from their prey and because we are often looking at problems from one side while ignoring the other, we immediately jump on the side of the one we see as the abused.  Similar to what we do now with an animal attack.  We blame the animal and put them down so that they cannot harm another person yet we ignore that the animal was only doing what it was born to do and the enticement came for the one we now claim as victim. 

There is a story about a lady climbing over the three fences that separated people coming to the zoo from the animals but she said she loves giraffes so much she had to climb over all three of them just to get close.  First the giraffe licked her then kicked her.  Some wanted to put the giraffe down and very few held the lady to account and could only see her as a victim.  Looking at the other side of the coin, does the baby giraffe deserve to lose its mother because someone else’s mother did not have the proper restraint to adhere to zoo policies and stay out of the pen?


Now maybe this example is a little extreme but it does demonstrate my point.  Let’s allow the courts to determine who’s at fault before we go making rules judgments that we may later find is lacking the whole story.  Ray Rice is guilty for striking his fiancée, this is clear on the tape but before we bag and tag him, let’s find out more.  In the end, the penalty for domestic abuse should be leveled upon him and be his sin to pay for but if there were circumstances where making your point then leaving it alone was not taken by the other party, there should be some kind of punishment leveled there as well.  Provocation should be just as important of a factor to rule against and educate on as actual physical confrontations are.  We cannot legislate what goes on in anyone’s mind but we can educate.

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