Just one day after charting new territory in gender equality with the hiring of Dr. Jen Welter as the first female coach in league history, the NFL’s suspension of Tom Brady showed what little respect the league has for women.
While the confirmation of a four-game suspension for Brady by Commissioner Roger Goodell may seem innocent enough on the surface, it is the comparison to recently suspended domestic abusers by the league that truly raises red flags.
New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady (12) passes against the Indianapolis Colts during the second half of the NFL football AFC Championship game Sunday, Jan. 18, 2015, in Foxborough, Mass. (AP Photo/Charles Krupa)
The most recent case in the league that mirrors Brady’s suspension and appeal comes in the form of Greg Hardy – a player who was arrested last year for domestic violence. After initially suspending the former Carolina Panther’s defensive end for 10 games, the NFL appeal process reduced his suspension to just four after Hardy and the victim reached a financial settlement.
This all is coming a year after the infamous Ray Rice debacle.
You know, the one in which Rice was arrested for domestic abuse against his then fiancé Janay Rice. The NFL saw footage of Rice dragging his unconscious fiancé out of an elevator, heard Rice admit to the violence and still only suspended him for two games. It wasn’t until TMZ was able to get their hands on surveillance footage of the attack and subsequently share it with the public that the NFL felt the pressure to pursue a harsher punishment.
The combination of the initial Rice suspension with the suspensions of Brady and Hardy is proof that the NFL deems the slight deflation of footballs to be just as despicable as the beating of women.
And that is truly unacceptable.
What the mirroring suspensions of Brady and Hardy shows is that the NFL cares more about the performance of its players than it does the violence women are facing at the hands of its employees. For a sport that is going above and beyond to appeal to women, they are doing very little to put forth an effort to keep them safe.
Janay Rice, back left, looks on as her husband, Baltimore Ravens running back Ray Rice, speaks during an NFL football news conference, Friday, May 23, 2014, at the team's practice facility in Owings Mills, Md. Ray Rice spoke to the media for the first time since his arrest for assaulting his fiance, now his wife, at a casino in Atlantic City, N.J. (AP/Patrick Semansky)
The issue of NFL players being accused of violent acts against woman is far from a new occurrence. According to USA Today, there have been 95 players arrested on charges of domestic violence and 11 arrested on charges of assault against women since 2001 alone.
If this is an issue that has been plaguing the league for over a decade, why is very little being done to stop it from happening? Instead of protecting women, the NFL has tried to bury the issues in an effort to keep them from going public.
At a time when the NFL has the ability to take a stand against domestic violence and set a precedent for professional organizations around the world, it continues to drop the ball. For every Jen Welter, there are a dozen more in the same boat as Janay Rice.
The league may publicly claim they denounce domestic violence, but until they start showing they believe that statement we have very little reason to believe them. Until then, we can only take their identical suspensions of an accused football deflator and domestic abuser as proof of what they truly believe.
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