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Sunday, August 12, 2012

The NFL and violence against women

I'm sure you've heard that the Miami Dolphins released Chad Johnson following his arrest on a charge of domestic violence against his new wife Evelyn Lozada.
Let me be clear, I'm not fan of the Basketball Wives bully, but if Johnson hit or headbutted her then he should've been released from the team. But why stop with Johnson?
The NFL is full of men who have hit a woman. Dez Bryant, wide receiver for my favorite team -- The Dallas Cowboys -- should've been released from the team after putting his hands on his mother.  Let me add--allegedly. So, why is Johnson the only player being punished for violence against women?

NFL commissioner Roger Goodell has paid lip service to domestic violence in the league, but what has he done about it? If your answer is nothing, then you're right.

We are going to do some things to combat this problem because some of the numbers on DUIs and domestic violence are going up and that disturbs me,” Goodell told Mike Freeman of CBSSports.com. “When there’s a pattern of mistakes, something has got to change.”
Goodell said he has talked to the NFL Players Association about the matter and is hoping to continue working with the players to reduce the number of off-field incidents that cast the NFL in a negative light.
“We’ve had some really good discussions with the union,” Goodell said. “Now we just have to see if we can carry through with them.”
Issues with players getting arrested typically disappear during training camp, because players are so busy and exhausted during training camp that they don’t have the time or the energy to find trouble off the field. But that doesn’t mean the NFL isn’t facing a serious problem with all of the arrests that happened this offseason — 32 of them, by our count. Goodell is right to be disturbed.
But is the league disturbed enough to do something? Will the league come up with a uniform policy that will punish any player who abuses a woman? Goodell took swift and -- in my opinion -- unfair action against the New Orleans Saints regarding bounties, but he's slow and silent on domestic violence.
But, according to a Pittsburgh Post-Gazette article from March, the NFL says it's hard to gauge domestic violence.

James Harrison is one of a number of NFL players who have been involved in domestic violence incidents in the past several years, though it appears that few have received penalties from the league because charges have been dismissed in many of the cases.
Harrison, a Pro Bowl linebacker with the Steelers, was arrested and charged with simple assault and criminal mischief Saturday after he allegedly assaulted his girlfriend, Beth Tibbott, at her Ohio Township residence. His preliminary hearing has been rescheduled for April 3.
An NFL spokesman said yesterday the league does not provide the number of domestic violence cases against players, partly because many of the cases are "ultimately dismissed."
A most recent example occurred yesterday when a woman who had a restraining order in a domestic-violence case against New England Patriots receiver Randy Moss had the charges dropped.
Last year, former Cleveland Browns running back Reuben Droughns had domestic violence charges against him dropped when prosecutors cited a lack of evidence.
The Steelers saw a similar situation two years ago when receiver Santonio Holmes, their No. 1 draft pick at the time, had charges of domestic violence and assault against him dropped by a municipal court judge in Columbus, Ohio.
Still, there have been cases where players have been punished by the league for incidents involving domestic violence.
The most serious case occurred in 2004 when Tampa Bay Buccaneers running back Michel Pittman was suspended for three games by the NFL after an incident in which he was charged with ramming his Hummer into a car driven by his wife and carrying his 2-year-old child and baby sitter.
Since then, seven players have received one-game suspensions by the league for domestic violence, according to various news reports.
According to a police affidavit, Harrison broke down a bedroom door while his girlfriend was trying to call 911, took her cell phone and broke it in half. Tibbott also said Harrison, who is 5 feet 11, 245 pounds, hit her with an open hand in the face, knocking off her glasses.
Harrison was working out at the Steelers South Side facility yesterday but was unavailable for comment.
Under Pennsylvania law, simple assault is considered a Class 2 misdemeanor punishable by up to two years in prison. Criminal mischief can be considered a felony in the third degree with a maximum prison term of seven years if the damage caused in the incident is in excess of $5,000.
According to a league spokesman, each of the NFL's 32 teams conducts a life-skills session each fall.
Last year, commissioner Roger Goodell instituted a Conduct Management Program for all incoming rookies, requiring them to attend eight one-hour sessions that incorporate video, lectures and discussions designed to teach players how to cope with life in the NFL. The sessions are run by an outside instructor approved by the league and coordinated with each team's player-development director.
Harrison was in his first year as a starter with the Steelers after rising from obscurity as a free agent from Kent State University who was cut three times in his career, twice by the Steelers.
Now, here's what I don't understand, the league can determine that a team put bounties out on players but they can't tell that players are beating women?

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