The NFL is deeply concerned with the integrity of the sport. In fact, New England legend and face of the game Tom Brady was suspended for the first quarter of the season for having been “probably at least generally aware” of the Patriots’ practice of slightly deflating game balls for a possible competitive advantage.
The NFL is deeply concerned about players being good role models for children. In fact, embattled former Cleveland Browns wide receiver Josh Gordon has played all of five games since the 2013 season after repeatedly testing positive for marijuana use.
The NFL is deeply concerned about player conduct. In fact, Odell Beckham was fined almost $25,000 this week for taking off his helmet in celebration after scoring a touchdown. Antonio Brown was also fined for twerking after scoring.
So when New York Giants kicker Josh Brown was quietly suspended for a single game following an incident in which he grabbed his ex-wife’s wrist to keep her from reaching for a phone, eyebrows went up across the NFL. The league chose to castigate Brady (deflating footballs), Gordon (smoking weed) and the celebrators, while letting an abuser fly under the radar.
This week, the levees broke. As it turns out, Josh Brown regularly abused his ex-wife “physically, emotionally, and verbally” over the course of their marriage. A police report describes 20 instances of physical violence. Let’s let one of Brown’s personal journals, obtained by the sheriff in Brown’s hometown, tell it: “I viewed myself as a God, basically, and she was my slave.”
The Giants have known about the abuse since at least 2014. A landlord, it seems, overheard Brown and his then-wife have an altercation, and made an attempt at blackmail. The organization stepped in and, according to Brown’s former wife, “did what they needed to make the guy go away.”
Following all of these revelations, Brown has been placed on the team’s “exempt list” — he isn’t traveling with the team, but instead is paid to sit at home until the league decides what to do. One presumes he’ll be punished — but only because the story has become national news.
The league’s misplaced priorities mean that stories like Brown’s are downplayed and covered up. It happened with Ray Rice’s abuse scandal. It happened with the discovery of the damaged brains of former players. The NFL fines players who celebrate, and then uses the footage in commercials to market their product. All the while, off-the-field incidents are swept under the rug. And at this point, there’s hardly any space left under there.
Jack Siglin is a senior physiology and neurobiology major. He can be reached at email@example.com.