Okay Roger… Now what?

Commissioner GoodellListening to NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell’s press conference multiple times now, I find myself still looking for some things to solidly get behind. From my perspective there are a couple of great moves. There are other missed opportunities.

It is great that the NFL has connected with the National Hotline (www.thehotline.org) and it appears the league is committed to helping them with staffing and resources. This is in response to the fact that the hotline missed a huge number of calls by victims due to an 84% increase of calls last week. This is a great initiative for victims. I can get behind that.

I’m glad to hear local domestic violence resources were provided to teams. This is also a good start in the awareness and education process needed for team owners, team personnel and players.

Other than these two new initiatives, everything else were things we already knew.

goodell riceThere were a lot of apologies for how the Ray Rice situation was handled, the lack of a heavy enough penalty for Rice’s actions, and Goodell admitting the mistakes began with him. I truly appreciate his leadership and the fact that he is owning the responsibility for fumbling this case.

In the NFL’s defense, I think this issue caught them by surprize. One of the best things to come out of this mishap is we are now participating in a nationwide conversation. My guess is there are lessons that corporate America can learn from how the Commissioner and team owners are trying to get their heads around this. There is a very good chance that alot of businesses, professional teams and college atheletics didn’t have this issue on their radar before now.

Goodell did say they are going to rewrite the Personal Conduct Policy and cited a new committee being formed to help with this policy. His goal is to have a new policy in place by the Super Bowl (02/01/15).

More than once he stated he invited former FBI Director Robert S. Mueller III to lead an “independent” investigation on how the league handled the Rice case. And that is good. More than a few times he talked about “getting our house in order.” That is important too.

What I was hoping he would say is, “Any player arrested for domestic violence would immediately be suspended until an investigation is completed,” but he didn’t. Instead he dodged the questioning about consistency of charges like a high stakes lawyer.

Right now the NFL is still floundering with a consistent approach to players caught in a criminal incident. Regardless of their guilt or innocence.

Ray Rice has been suspended by the league and terminated by the Baltimore Ravens.

Carolina Panther’s Greg Hardy is on the “Exempt List.”

jonathan dwyerArizona Cardinal Jonathan Dwyer has been put on the non-football injury list, and San Francisco’s Ray McDonald is still playing meaning three out of four of these cases the player is still getting paid.

Granted, we do need to respect the legal process. Ray McDonald has not been charged yet. He was arrested last month and accused of assaulting his pregnant fiancée. A number of former players including Hall of Famer Jerry Rice think the 49ers should remove McDonald from the field.

Another DV case in the NFL?

quincy enunwaAnd what about New York Jets’ Quincy Enunwa? (NFL investigating case, ESPN) Mr. Enunwa was arrested on September 4th for allegedly pulling a woman off a bed at a hotel near the Jets training facility, injuring her head and finger. Why have we not heard anything about his case Mr. Commissioner? Will the new NFL Domestic Violence Policy that was immediately implemented on August 28, 2014 apply in this case once he is charged?

It begs the question, is the NFL simply turning a blind eye to the illegal activities of its players? (NFL Player Arrests, USA Today). Could Commissioner Goodell be trying to protect his bosses’ investments?

There is a ton of great work being done by current and former NFL players in the communities where they live. Men that understand their role as a positive role model. Men that know what they do instills a lasting impression on children. Especially young boys.

By not addressing these cases of potential abuse the NFL is sending the message to these youngsters that it is okay to own an arsenal of firearms. It’s okay to minimize women. It’s okay to view women as sex objects. Did you know, Mr. Commissioner, this lack of action of addressing these issues has proven to eventually lead to abuse (Miss Representation Project)

How about this for a strong message to victims and women in general?

janay knocked outWhat I did not heard during the press conference or at any point before now is a conversation on what the NFL is doing for Jayna Rice, Nicole Holder or any of the other victims abused at the hands of current NFL players facing charges of domestic violence or child abuse.

There was no apology. No words of concern to their well-being. No initiative toward assuring victims’ safety, which could easily apply to players being abuse by their intimate partner too.

We all know that October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month and the NFL has done more awareness of this issue than possibly any corporation in history. The players will pink and purple ribbonbe wearing pink accessories to their uniforms all month and a pink ribbon will adorn the 50 yard line in most (if not all) NFL stadiums throughout the month. This is fantastic knowing that one in eight women have personal experience with breast cancer.

Did you know that October is also Domestic Violence Awareness Month and that one in four women have experienced abuse in a relationship? What message can Commissioner Goodell send in support of women in general, which happens to be 44% of their fan base? (NFL fan base, USA Today)

Here is one tangible way the NFL can show they care. Ask every NFL owner to designate one home game within the month of October where $1 per ticket (or seat) would go to their local domestic violence shelter. Then the league could match those funds to go to the each State’s Domestic Violence Coalition. (This of course, would be over and above what the league has committed to the National Hotline.) This type of demonstration puts their money where their mouth is. All the while making a serious difference in the lives of abused women and possibly saving a life or two or more.

This just may help the PR nightmare they now are facing as well, with a move toward a commitment to victim’s safety which we all can solidly get behind.

Are you looking for ways you can help raise the banner against domestic violence during DV Awareness Month? Check out Mecklenburg County’s DV Calendar of Events or Domestic Violence Awareness Month for some ideas or how you can help.

What Is Our Best Response to Ray Rice?

goodell riceThere are a lot or responses to the Ray Rice travesty.

I wonder if divorcing the NFL is the answer.

I wonder if throwing Commissioner Goodell under the bleachers is a real solution.

I wonder if a ban of the NFL really helps.

Our better response may be to educate ourselves on this issue. Domestic violence is a rampant problem in at least one of every four relationships based on reporting to the National DV Hotline. Right here in Charlotte, NC we had more than 9,300 criminal incidents of domestic violence last year. Break that down, that is nearly 25 cases per day where someone communicated a threat to the one they love or they assaulted them to the point of physical harm or somewhere in between.

The NFL may not have responded as quickly as we all would have liked (especially now that we know what we know), but where Ray_Rice_052314_PRwere the whistleblowers two months ago when Ray Rice held a seven minute press conference apologizing to everyone but his soon to be wife? (05/23/14 > http://youtu.be/WJBkG_kyqxI). Mr. Rice spoke for more than 6:30 of that time giving his fiancé, Jayna a mere 30 seconds to share.

Our challenge with intimate partner violence is a lack of accountability. Victims are re-victimized every day in our court system, in our workplaces, and yes… in the media.

I did a segment on ESPN Radio yesterday I was asked, “Why did Jayna defend him and call out the media?” Well, it’s pretty simple. She is probably scared for her life and feels she had no other choice in order to survive.

We all need to look at this issue a bit differently. Watch the May 23rd press conference again and see if you can count how many times Jayna had the confidence to look up let alone hold eye contact with the camera. It appeared to me that she was afraid to even look at the man “she loves.” Commissioner Goodell made the same mistake that Pastors and professional Counselors make every day in every city in the country. Couples counseling in these volatile relationships does not work. The risk in this practice is the victim (male or female) has to go home with their abuser. It doesn’t matter if they said anything in the session or not. A simple roll of the eyes or a sigh to something the perpetrator said is enough to get the victim a beat down later.

Instead of us all banning the league and pointing the finger finding fault elsewhere, we may be better suited to gain some understanding of what we are dealing with.

first offense NFLPersonally, I applaud Commissioner Goodell and the NFL for their swift and firm response once they saw firsthand what took place in the elevator. Their stance sends a loud and clear message to all of professional sports that players abusing their wives and girlfriends will not be tolerated. Let’s wait and see what happens to Ray McDonald (San Francisco 49ers) and Greg Hardy (Carolina Panthers) when their cases are heard before a jury of their peers. If those cases prove to be as heinous and nothing happens then let’s call out the league.

I wonder if our anger toward this situation is not better suited toward our law makers for not instilling firmer penalties. Did you know that in North Carolina it is a heavier penalty for dragging your dog down the street? Animal cruelty is a felony. Dragging your girlfriend behind your truck is a misdemeanor. Maybe we should recruit every NFL fan to call their Legislator to pass the Violence Against Women’s Act long before it’s status is in jeopardy.

For me, the finger in this situation needs to be unanimously pointed firmly at Ray Rice. Not his wife. Not the NFL. At Ray Rice!

Ray Rice is lucky he is not facing a murder rap. We see countless numbers of domestic violence related homicides every year where the victim died from blunt force trauma. Cases when the killer didn’t mean to hurt her, but their choice to lay hands on her put leaving is dangerousher head through a wall. A seemingly harmless push can be enough for a victim to lose their balance and slam their head on an island in the kitchen.

Jayna Rice is lucky to be alive and clearly is doing everything she can to survive.

Our rage toward this issue needs to address how we might potentially save her life.

If you need help or know someone in an abusive relationship call the National Hotline at 800-779-SAFE (7233). Ask them about a safety plan.

If you want a better understanding of what domestic violence is go to http://CSS.CharMeck.org and click on the Women’s Commission.

http://www.facebook.com/MikeSextonNC
http://www.Twitter.com @MikeSextonNC