Over the past few weeks the NFL has faced a myriad of social/criminal issues that have risen to the A-block of even the most mainstream news sources. These are no longer stories buried in the “additional news” story lists on espn.com, they are full 20 minute segments on Andersen Cooper. The question to me, however, becomes… “Why now?”
These aren’t new issues in the NFL or society.
These crimes aren’t worse than what’s happened before in the NFL or in society.
What makes these instances more important or relevant than those that occurred in the past?
Short answer? Nothing. Long Answer? Social media has created world where momentum and not morals drive change. I wish all of this attention and change was coming from a good place, but it’s simply not. These issues have been around for a long time, but it’s now just culminating in the perfect storm of social media pressure. All parties involved in this process have been absolutely hypocritical and it’s time to call it out.
The hypocrisy of the NFL:
Since 2005 there have been more than 87 arrests of players on domestic violence or related charges. Yet it was not until Ray Rice hits his fiance/wife (violently) that the NFL even pretends to care. But, only enough to give him a 2 game suspension. That is, until the video gets leaked to TMZ. Now the NFL is creating a new female led domestic violence task force (or whatever BS name they’ll give it), and suspending Ray Rice indefinitely. Meanwhile, Greg Hardy and Ray McDonald, both accused of equally heinous crimes, are still allowed to suit up.
Here’s the facts, the NFL doesn’t give a fuck about the health and well being of women or children. They care about making money. Which, in a weird way, I’m actually more comfortable with than this constant and completely fake “This is a serious issue that we hold of the highest importance to us” stance that they are all of a sudden now taking. It’s the exact same thing they did with concussions; they care only after their lack of caring becomes a headline. If you really care about your “shield”, your fans, or your society at large then do the one tough thing that you can really do – like Chris Carter said – “gett’m off the dogg’n field”.
Want to take a hardline stance against these “violent crimes”, then sit players down until their hearing and judicial process is complete. After the justice system decides that player/person’s fate – then way in with an appropriate suspension (without pay). But oh wait, that would take real conviction and consistency.
The hypocrisy of the media:
Where were all of you on the 87 other player arrests over the past 10 years? Where are all of you on a daily basis when kids and women are beaten down? Why do you care now? Oh is it because you could get a headline and capitalize on a story that has already gained steam on social media and is talking about the wealthiest professional sports league in the world? Exactly. Show me even the faintest interest in what is a truly important subject matter any other time in the year and I’ll respect you. I understand the importance of relevance in the media; discussing trending subjects and all, but where do you get off pretending like you’re the champions of the abused? You know how I know you’re full of shit? Because it’s TM Fucking Z that gets the most important news video scoop of the year. If CNN or Fox News or the NY Times were even half way interested in really blowing up stories, like the old days of journalism, then there is no way that TMZ is the media source that gets that tape. Fact is the media doesn’t really care about this problem at all. If they did, they’d be going deep to uncover the societal issues that have lead to this problem of abuse in the US. But no, that’d be too much work. So please stop your pontificating about what the NFL should or shouldn’t do, because you have no clue and you don’t really care… well that is you won’t care as soon as the story dies down a bit.
The hypocrisy of the fan:
I have been hearing from so many fans that Ray Rice should be banned for life, Adrien Peterson should be banned for life, that Michael Vick SHOULD have been banned for life and that Roger Goodell should be fired immediately. What’s the reason I keep hearing? “Because playing in or working for the NFL is a privilege”. What’s that really mean though? “They shouldn’t be able to make all that money after doing those things.” Listen, I’m not saying that the various crimes committed by these people aren’t terrible, however your reasoning for wanting them banned is absolutely ridiculous and not in line with how our society works.
First off, playing in the NFL isn’t a privilege. Being born into wealth, something you did nothing to earn, is a privilege. Working your ass off to get into the NFL, and earn a fat pay check, is no different than working your ass off to launch a start-up. Being athletic, like being smart, is a gift – but it takes work to turn that gift into money. The fact that these people make more money than the average fan, doesn’t mean they are privileged. Secondly, to say that a player or person of any sort, doesn’t deserve a second chance is absolute bullshit. If you can go back to any other job/career after serving your punishment then you should be able to go back to playing a pro-sport. I’m not pretending like every single person changes to become better, but our society is set up to give those who serve a punishment, a second chance. If you don’t agree with that philosophy then basically what you’re saying is that every person who ever commits a violent crime should be put in jail for life. Which is ridiculous.
Listen if YOU want to have conviction, then stop watching the teams with these players on them. You can’t ban a player for life, but a team doesn’t have to sign them. If you want to have an impact, then sacrifice your Sunday TV time to prove a point. However, if you can’t even do that how truly committed to the cause are you?
The hypocrisy of all:
We do have a real problem with domestic violence and related crimes in this country. It’s not a joke but it’s also not simple. It’s a systematic problem that starts with how so many people and kids are raised. I truly believe what Adrian Peterson did was child abuse, but I also truly believe that he really never thought of himself as a child abuser. I have been in the south and know kids who were raised in exactly that manner and I can tell you that their parents also believe they were parenting. That doesn’t make it right, and it doesn’t excuse it… but it begins to explain it. It doesn’t make Adrian Peterson a bad or good person – it makes him a severely misguided one. I am the product of an abusive home, and I can tell you that I still am not willing to make long lasting sweeping generalizations about people based on either things that happen once or things that are psychologically rooted in their childhood.
Both Peterson and Rice (as well as Hardy and Mcdonald) should be punished accordingly for their crimes – but they should also have the real opportunity to learn from and come back from their mistakes. There is a lot more at play in our society than just right and wrong. Everyone wants everyone fired or put in jail until it’s them. “It was just a little weed”, “I was just speeding a little bit”, “I didn’t know I was bullying that person”. All of these are regular excuses that get spewed when the crime is on that we ourselves are facing. However, we need to stop looking at these other individuals, just because they are rich or famous, and demand their heads on a platter. How about we take some of our free time that we put it to use in changing the cycle. Instead of anonymously joining the social media mob for 3 hours a day, how about we refocus that energy towards drug education programs, women’s shelters, big brother and big sister programs? Maybe if you even slightly understood the depths of these systematic problems, let alone worked to fix them, you’d have a much more intelligent point of view.
Fact is, everyone wants change in everything and everyone else… except when it’s there turn. That is the definition of hypocrisy.