ezekiel elliott

Does the NFL Really Care About Domestic Abuse?

The NFL suspended star Cowboys running back Ezekiel Elliott for six games Friday, a severe punishment that the league is hoping eliminates the perception that it’s soft on domestic violence, especially  juxtaposed against the penalties handed down in the past for lesser offenses. And that will be the conclusion that some will draw, eager to clear the runway for the 2017 NFL season to begin in a few weeks. Tom Brady and his best chance at 19-0 since 2007, Odell and his on-field ridiculousness–with such storylines, who has time to be discerning when it comes to domestic abuse?

Not NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell, that’s for sure.

Make no mistake, Elliott should have been investigated for his role in whatever happened between him and Tiffany Thompson during that week in July 2016. Photos of significant injuries were presented, troubling accusations were levied and law enforcement got involved. But the Columbus (Ohio) City Attorney’s Office declined to press charges in September 2016 due to “conflicting and inconsistent information,” and after a year of circling it appears as if NFL officials can’t detail Elliott’s alleged wrongdoing either. Instead in announcing the suspension, the league’s official press release framed the NFL as being “of the view that there is substantial and persuasive evidence supporting a finding that [Elliott] engaged in physical violence against Ms. Thompson on multiple occasions during the week of July 16, 2016.”

Somewhere, Goodell’s PR specialist is silently fist-pumping having pulled off the language “of the view that there is substantial and persuasive evidence,” because it absolves Goodell of the duty of having to explicitly state that, if there is in fact evidence that directly implicates Elliott, neither Goodell nor the league has seen it.

So how did Elliott land at a pre-appeal suspension of six games—nearly half the upcoming season? The league’s recent history with domestic violence punishments tells that story. After punching his fiancé, Janay Rice, unconscious in an Atlantic City elevator, former Ravens star Ray Rice was suspended for a mere two games, even after divulging to Goodell that he’d used physical force to knock her out cold. It wasn’t until TMZ unearthed footage from inside the elevator that Rice was indefinitely suspended from the league, a decision ultimately reversed on appeal. The words “two games” written together became a foul stench hanging over the league.

And Elliott’s isn’t even the open-and-shut case that Greg Hardy’s was. Hardy, a former Cowboys and Panther star, was actually found guilty on two counts of domestic violence for his role in a 2014 incident and given 18 months of probation. In hindsight, the time for the league to really make the “important” statement against domestic violence was with Hardy, who reportedly threatened to kill his girlfriend at the time. Instead, Hardy received a contract from the Cowboys the very next season, and got his 10-game suspension knocked down to four.

That’s to say nothing of Josh Brown, perhaps the ugliest eyesore on the NFL’s punishment resume of late. The Giants kicker was suspended just one game in 2015 after an arrest at his home following an incident with his then wife, who told police that he’d attacked her on over 20 occasions. Seventeen months later, a collection of Brown’s personal documents surfaced, some of which detailed the different ways he abused his wife, lending validity to his wife’s desperate claims.

Now, to fix its image, the NFL has installed a mandatory minimum suspension of six games for domestic violence offenders. But Elliott’s suspension feels more like the NFL putting a head on its mantle than effective discipline. To be clear, this is no defense of Ezekiel Elliott. He hasn’t made a particular effort to stay out of trouble since the incident in question, and the accusations made against him are disturbing. But none of that appears to be driving league’s decision here. Instead, Elliott looks to be caught in the crossfire of the NFL’s ongoing public relations war, as the league tries to beat back a barrage of bad press, from near daily revelations about the dangers of repeated head injuries, to the Colin Keapernick “controversy“(which as of yesterday, now includes Marshawn Lynch), to its perception of being soft on domestic abusers.

By swallowing what he knew about Rice’s actions in that Atlantic City elevator and clearing the way for him to expeditiously return to football, Goodell opened up a floodgate that makes it impossible for him to be taken at his word, even as he tries to convey compassion for an alleged victim of domestic violence. Goodell was trashed for repeatedly giving offenders a pass, and now he wants to make up for that by throwing the book at Elliott in a situation where the door that leads to Elliott actually being innocent remains open.

Thus far, Elliott’s suspension has been hailed as a new leaf for the league–a badly needed one, as the decidedly less conservative and more inclusive rival NBA league’s popularity continues to explode. Unfortunately, given Goodell’s tokenist approach to past issues, coupled with the NFL’s unnerving approach to rising CTE awareness, it’s hard to imagine the day in the near future when the NFL is pegged as an organization that really, truly cares.

 

Related Articles

Sports
Sports

Colin Kaepernick Is an American Hero

Sports
Sports

Dolphins Convince Terrible QB to Unretire, Avoid Kaepernick

News
News

Marshawn Lynch And Michael Bennett Sit During National Anthem

Ad

Latest News

moneybagg-yo-still Video

Moneybagg Yo Levels Up With “Important” Video

"Tell the label, 'Open up the budget'"
Confederate Statue News

It’s Time to Tear Down All of the Racist Statues

Baltimore is the latest city to remove its Confederate memorials
dave-east-slow-down News

Dave East Releases ‘Paranoia’ Tracklist, Unveils Nas & Chris Brown Features

The project features Chris Brown and Nas
bun-b News

Watch Bun B Keep it Trill in Trumpland

Front, back & fuck you
charlottesville-both-sides Features

Both Sides Now: Where Do We Go After Charlottesville?

Searching for common ground
Music Video

PREMIERE: Twista Turns His “Disrespectful” Video Into a Straight-Up Slasher Flick

Jason Vorhees mode
Art

Watch Pete Miser Create Paper Script Album Art

Kinfolk artist crafts his own 'Depression Era Thinking' cover
nba-2k18 News

‘NBA 2K18’ Celebrates Prodigy of Mobb Deep in New Trailer

The clip features "Shook Ones"
willie-d-geto-boys Music

How to Survive the AmeriKKKan Nightmare, A Playlist

Charlottesville is on our mind, and this is what we're listening to
nicholas-fulcher Hey, You're Cool

Hey, You’re Cool! Nicholas Fulcher

"Don't stop 'till you secure the bag"
south-park-20-years Features

Everything I Need To Know About Charlottesville I Learned on ‘South Park’

Trey Stone and Matt Parker predicted the future for the last 20 years
Daily Blunt News

LeBron James Calls Trump the “So-Called President”

The NBA star once again uses his platform to take a stand
digital-nas Music Video

PREMIERE: You Can “Hate” Digital Nas Video Now

What's in a name?
obama pretending to use a smart phone News

Barack Obama’s Charlottesville Response Becomes “Most-Liked” Tweet Ever

"Love comes more naturally to the human heart than its opposite"
a$ap mob walks around in their music video for "feels so good." the third single off of their upcoming cozy tapes vol. 2: too cozy project dropping at the end of august. Music Video

A$AP Mob Fights For Camera Time In “Feels So Good” Video

They debuted the track on 'The Tonight Show'
mf-doom-jay-electronica Music

MF DOOM and Jay Electronica Finally Release Their Fire Collaboration “True Light...

This is not a drill!