Domestic violence plagues the NFL

Domestic violence — the words evoke a cringe. In recent weeks, not only sports, national and global headlines have been laden with poignant references to those two words in relation first to Ray Rice and now to a host of NFL players.

On Sept. 13, Minnesota Vikings running back Adrian Peterson turned himself in to a jail in Montgomery County, Texas. The Pro-Bowl MVP was indicted two days earlier by a grand jury on charges of reckless and negligent injury to a child; a warrant had been issued for his arrest.

The incident for which he turned himself in — and was released a half hour later after posting $15,000 in bond — occurred in May. His 4-year-old son received what Peterson called a whooping for pushing another one of his children off a bike. The disciplined child received cuts, bruising and bleeding on his back, buttocks, genitals, ankles and legs.

Whether or not corporal punishment is deemed an acceptable form of discipline is not the question to be raised here. For or against this method of punishment, Peterson went too far — he accepts this.
But the violence seems a rapidly spreading plague with no simple panacea.

On Sept. 17, Jonathan Dwyer, backup running back for the Arizona Cardinals, was arrested on six counts spanning two separate incidents dating back to July 21-22. His rap sheet includes one count of causing a fracture to a 27-year-old woman, one count of aggravated assault involving a minor — an 18-month old infant — two counts of criminal damage, one count of preventing the use of a phone in an emergency and assault.

Dwyer now has allegedly combined the horrendous crimes of abusing both a woman and a child. His offenses run the gamut of human derangement.

The violence lies not only on the shoulders of NFL running backs; it’s spread to the defensive side of the ball as well.

Carolina Panthers defensive end Greg Hardy was found guilty in a court of law in July for assaulting a female and communicating threats. Despite his conviction being fairly dated, the 2013 Pro-Bowl selectee was only placed on the Exempt/Commissioner’s Permission List less than 24 hours after the Vikings — both organizations urged on by Commissioner Roger Goodell — placed Peterson on the same list.

This rather opaque list seems to have become a fallback for an NFL confused at how to deal with the onslaught of bad press and threat of lost money.

Ray McDonald, defensive end for the San Francisco 49ers, was arrested on Aug. 31 on suspicion of felony domestic violence, but charges have yet to have been filed. McDonald has been placed on no such exemption list and has started in the opening weeks of the season because, most likely, the charges are not formal.

The intriguing aspect of the ever-increasing violence debacle arises in Goodell’s response to recent allegations.

Goodell is the only executive who has the authority to place a player on the exemption list, so in the cases of Hardy, Peterson and Dwyer — the latter being the only player to immediately be disciplined with a deactivation from his team — we’ve seen his proactive tendencies increase in a directly proportional relationship to a threat to the NFL’s economic bottom line.

Advertisers are now, after the exponentially inordinate amount of criminal charges, voicing concern at the NFL’s influx of violent acts, though, this move is more likely than not a face-saving venture for the sponsors, rather than an attempt to inculcate a sense of reverence in regard to ending domestic violence.

McDonald’s, Visa, Campbell’s and Nike have all released statements in abhorrence of the domestic violence rife in recent weeks. Most notable of all corporate NFL sponsors to express discontent with the NFL has been Anheuser-Busch — yes, the beer company.

Putting aside the profound irony of an alcohol company opposing domestic violence, the threat to the NFL in losing sponsorship dollars is not economically advantageous and thus must be avoided.

For the NFL to take any proactive measures, it appears the league’s impregnable bank account must first be threatened.

The NFL will recover economically, and all will be right with the world — of football, at least.

Although this is infallible, what remains dubious is whether or not a league dependent on violence can possibly take a true stand against the crime.