Lazy Saturday Reads

Matisse woman reading

Good Morning!!

I’m going to devote this post to NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell and the league’s domestic violence crisis.

Yesterday NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell emerged from wherever he was hiding for the past ten days and gave a press conference in which he once again tried to paper over his awful handling of domestic violence charges against Ray Rice and a number of other NFL players.

He really shouldn’t have bothered. The “press conference,” in which Goodell announced that he’s setting up a series of committees to formulate a new league policy on domestic violence in time for the Super Bowl, and then dodged pointed questions from the media, was bad enough; but shortly thereafter, ESPN Outside the Lines published a story that showed both Goodell and Baltimore Ravens ownership to be liars. The truth is, the Ravens knew about the video footage from inside the elevator not long after Rice hit Janay Palmer with a closed fist and caused her to lose consciousness.

Rice case: purposeful misdirection by team, scant investigation by NFL, by Don Van Natta Jr. and Kevin Van Valkenburg.

Just hours after running back Ray Rice knocked out his then-fiancée with a left hook at the Revel Casino Hotel in Atlantic City, New Jersey, the Baltimore Ravens’ director of security, Darren Sanders, reached an Atlantic City police officer by phone. While watching surveillance video — shot from inside the elevator where Rice’s punch knocked his fiancée unconscious — the officer, who told Sanders he just happened to be a Ravens fan, described in detail to Sanders what he was seeing.

Sanders quickly relayed the damning video’s play-by-play to team executives in Baltimore, unknowingly starting a seven-month odyssey that has mushroomed into the biggest crisis confronting a commissioner in the NFL’s 94-year history.

“Outside the Lines” interviewed more than 20 sources over the past 11 days — team officials, current and former league officials, NFL Players Association representatives and associates, advisers and friends of Rice — and found a pattern of misinformation and misdirection employed by the Ravens and the NFL since that February night.

After the Feb. 15 incident in the casino elevator, Ravens executives — in particular owner Steve Bisciotti, president Dick Cass and general manager Ozzie Newsome — began extensive public and private campaigns pushing for leniency for Rice on several fronts: from the judicial system in Atlantic County, where Rice faced assault charges, to commissioner Goodell, who ultimately would decide the number of games Rice would be suspended from this fall, to within their own building, where some were arguing immediately after the incident that Rice should be released.

The Ravens also consulted frequently with Rice’s Philadelphia defense attorney, Michael J. Diamondstein, who in early April had obtained a copy of the inside-elevator video and told Cass: “It’s f—ing horrible.” Cass did not request a copy of the video from Diamondstein but instead began urging Rice’s legal team to get Rice accepted into a pretrial intervention program after being told some of the program’s benefits. Among them: It would keep the inside-elevator video from becoming public.

For its part, the NFL — which in other player discipline cases has been able to obtain information that’s been sealed by court order — took an uncharacteristically passive approach when it came to gathering evidence, opening itself up to widespread criticism, allegations of inconsistent approaches to player discipline and questions about whether Goodell gave Rice — the corporate face of the Baltimore franchise — a light punishment as a favor to his good friend Bisciotti. Four sources said Ravens executives, including Bisciotti, Cass and Newsome, urged Goodell and other league executives to give Rice no more than a two-game suspension, and that’s what Goodell did on July 24.

violence

It’s a long article that shows Ravens coach John Harbaugh in a surprisingly positive light–he reportedly wanted to  cut Rice and two other players who had been arrested in the off-season, but owner Steven Bisciotti overruled him. It’s possible that this means the information in the piece came from sources friendly to Harbaugh, and the team claims there are a number of problems with the article. But at this point, who is going to believe either the team or Roger Goodell over ESPN’s sources–especially when they are postponing stating any specifics until next week? Do they need a few days to dream up a response?

The ESPN article also portrays Ray Rice as extremely remorseful about having hit Janay, and suggests that Steve Biscotti tried to bribe Rice to stay silent about what actually happened. From Deadspin:

Once the video became public, Bisciotti claimed that the team had not seen the tape until it was released by TMZ, suggesting that the account Rice had given him was somehow at odds with the elevator footage. This is also Goodell’s claim, though OTL has four sources saying that Rice told the truth in his meeting with the commissioner. The Ravens released Rice on Sept. 8 and then, according to ESPN, immediately offered an olive branch.
Minutes later, Rice’s phone buzzed. He could scarcely believe what he was looking at— back-to-back text messages from Bisciotti. Rice read them aloud so everyone in the room could hear them:

Hey Ray, just want to let you know, we loved you as a player, it was great having you here. Hopefully all these things are going to die down. I wish the best for you and Janay.

When you’re done with football, I’d like you to know you have a job waiting for you with the Ravens helping young guys getting acclimated to the league.

[…]

A few days later, after thinking about it more, Rice told friends he believed Bisciotti was suggesting that, as long as he kept quiet and stuck to the story that he had misled team officials and Goodell about what had happened in the elevator, the Ravens would take care of him down the road. He felt incredibly insulted.

Mirta Toleado, I punch you because I love you (envelope design)

Mirta Toleado, I punch you because I love you (envelope design)

If there is anything positive to come out of this horrible story it’s that more battered women are seeking help from domestic violence hot lines. From the Kansas City Star:

For all the nonsense, though, something seismic may be happening in the fallout here … primed by the inadvertent contribution of the NFL, and not only because Goodell promised harsher punishment for “totally unacceptable” behavior — domestic violence, child abuse, sexual assault, misuse of firearms, and illegal use of alcohol and drugs.

Because its initial response to Rice was so warped — a paltry two-game suspension — the rumbling started with the release of the second Rice video. And it began to accelerate in the void of NFL leadership between then and now, especially as Adrian Peterson faces child-abuse charges for “whooping” his 4-year-old son with a “switch” and domestic-abuse allegations against others came to light.

If nature abhors a vacuum, so do human beings … who have way more ways to fill it up in the era of social media.

Between the media attention and outrage across the nation, including from heavyweight sponsors such as Anheuser-Busch and Procter & Gamble (which on Friday pulled out of a planned Breast Cancer Awareness event for October), the topic had been bubbling at a critical mass by the time Goodell finally spoke.

That dynamic made for a pivotal moment.

“I think this truly has been a tipping point in how the nation looks at domestic violence and sexual assault,” said Joan Schultz, executive director of the Willow Domestic Violence Center in Lawrence. “We’re starting to take it out of (being) the victim’s fault.

“And men are starting to stand up and say, ‘No,’ and that’s what I’ve always thought it was going to take: ‘No, this is not right. … We’re silent no more.’

Frankly, I’m not so confident about a real renaissance in societal attitudes toward domestic abuse coming out of this, but maybe some seeds of change have been planted.
Jim Pavlidis, Football violence against women

Jim Pavlidis, Football violence against women

A couple more reactions . . .

As RalphB noted yesterday, the Pentagon is taking a second look at their relationship with the NFL. From Stars and Stripes:
Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel has asked his staff for details about the U.S. military’s relationships with the National Football League in the wake of the scandal over how the league is handling domestic-abuse allegations against players, CNN reported Friday.

The Pentagon is increasingly sensitive to any suggestion it is supporting a major sports organization that is perceived to tolerate domestic violence….

The military has a zero-¬tolerance policy in the ranks for domestic abuse, but it also has a decades-long, high-profile relationship with the NFL. Any Pentagon action to cut back support for the NFL would be the most direct involvement by the Obama administration yet in the scandal.

What involvement does the military have with the NFL?

The Army alone spends $10 million a year on advertising during NFL games. Games are also broadcast by the Armed Forces Network to troops deployed overseas.

Military support for the NFL games includes providing ceremonial units at games for colors ceremonies; military personnel singing the national anthem, and other units providing drill teams or flyovers. Military personnel, including wounded warriors, often appear at NFL events honoring those who serve, CNN noted.

The Army and the NFL also have a agreement to share information and resources to better understand traumatic brain injury, which is a major medical issue for wounded troops and football players. They are working together on awareness of TBI as well as research into treatment. The military has been sharing some of the lessons learned on TBI from the last 13 years of war.

 Interesting. Along with Proctor & Gamble pulling out of the NFL’s breast cancer campaign, this could have a real influence.

stopviolence
 Mike Lupica at the NY Daily News:  NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell is right — he is sorry. Lupica writes that Goodell talked so much about how he feels bad about his handling of the domestic abuse scandal (actually, Lupica says Goodell mostly feels bad that he was caught) that “he neglected to mention the victims that brought him to that podium on Friday.”
So the man who was once more than happy to pose on the cover of Time magazine as “The Enforcer” now talks about initiatives and the women he has hired and the committees he now needs to deal with domestic violence and all the rest of it in the National Football League. He says that a conduct committee will be in place by the Super Bowl, and acted as if we should give him the game ball for that.

“Our standards . . . must be clear, consistent and current,” Goodell said at one point, and you wondered why in the hell they already weren’t in the most powerful and profitable league in this country, why it took some grainy elevator video to slap Goodell and his owners upside their own thick heads.

You watched Goodell on Friday, watched him be as contrite as all the players he’s taken to the woodshed without impunity over his years as the NFL commissioner, and wondered why Adam Silver, the new NBA commissioner, a rookie commissioner, didn’t need to form committees when he kicked Donald Sterling, one of his owners, right out of his sport.

When Major League Baseball’s Bud Selig and Rob Manfred wanted to suspend a dozen guys last year, and drop a richly deserved hammer on a drug cheat like Alex Rodriguez, they didn’t talk about a conduct committee or wait around for law enforcement to throw the first punch against Anthony Bosch, drug pusher to the stars. They went right after Bosch with a lawsuit for interference and you know what happened in that moment? They became real enforcers, not people simply posing that way.

According to Lupica, Goodell is now “the weakest commissioner in professional sports.”

What else is happening? Please post your thoughts and comments on any topic in the comment thread, and have a fabulous weekend!

 


25 Comments on “Lazy Saturday Reads”

  1. bostonboomer says:

    I’ve just about had it with WordPress . .

    Here’s a story on the missing student from UVA that Janicen posted about recently:

    Missing Virginia Student Hannah Graham May Have Gotten Into Car With Man

  2. bostonboomer says:

    The NYT has a good article on the aftereffects of the “stop and frisk” policy on a Brooklyn neighborhood.

  3. Pat Johnson says:

    Let’s face it: America is “addicted” to football. Addicted in a bad way when athletes are treated like “untouchable gods” beginning in high school, followed by college, and eventually to finally making it into the NFL where money rules and behavior is overlooked for “the sake of the game”.

    What happened in the NFL is nothing new. How many times have we covered the treatment meted out to high school athletes accused of crimes only to be “excused” not only by the coaches but their fanbase as well? Too many times to count.

    We’ve seen and heard from adults in these leagues lining up to offer a defense of these young lawbreakers based only on their ability to bring home a championship trophy.

    One of the young men accused and convicted last year of having an unwanted sexual encounter with a passed out young girl has served his one year sentence and has been reinstated back onto his high school football team! As long as this behavior is tolerated why should young athletes fear punishment when the rewards still await them at the end?

    The academic bar is set low for these prized athletes. Education on any level is suspended. Look no further than Penn State to appreciate how “looking the other way” when misconduct is ignored simply because one of its coaches was considered “invaluable” in winning championships.

    For “things to change” there must be a complete restructure of what it takes to hold a position in any league, amateur to professional, from the fans to the top of the structure of these organizations. This also includes the sponsors who pay huge sums in support of these organizations. Withholding the money is at least a start.

    Rewarding bad behavior in signing athletes to multi million dollar contracts as they casually break the law is not going to end the entitlement.

    It will take a complete mind shift from all parties involved that this will not be tolerated.

    • bostonboomer says:

      Hi Pat,

      Everything you say is true. Right now, the Heisman Trophy winner from Florida State is in trouble, and he was previously accused of rape and still won the award. What a disgrace!

      http://abcnews.go.com/Sports/jameis-winston-sit-game/story?id=25638962

      http://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2014/04/16/sports/errors-in-inquiry-on-rape-allegations-against-fsu-jameis-winston.html

      • bostonboomer says:

        NYT:

        Three weeks after Mr. Winston was publicly identified as the suspect, the storm had passed. The local prosecutor announced that he lacked the evidence to charge Mr. Winston with rape. The quarterback would go on to win the Heisman Trophy and lead Florida State to the national championship.

        In his announcement, the prosecutor, William N. Meggs, acknowledged a number of shortcomings in the police investigation. In fact, an examination by The New York Times has found that there was virtually no investigation at all, either by the police or the university.

        The police did not follow the obvious leads that would have quickly identified the suspect as well as witnesses, one of whom videotaped part of the sexual encounter. After the accuser identified Mr. Winston as her assailant, the police did not even attempt to interview him for nearly two weeks and never obtained his DNA.

        The detective handling the case waited two months to write his first report and then prematurely suspended his inquiry without informing the accuser. By the time the prosecutor got the case, important evidence had disappeared, including the video of the sexual act.

        • ANonOMouse says:

          I’m not surprised that Florida State has let him off so many times. Like the Ravens they first gave him a wrist slap and then the publicity forced them to give him something that more resembled a punishment for his latest offense. Also like the NFL the NCAA is staying in the background UNTIL the public outrage becomes so deafening that they have to intercede. It’s about MONEY, MONEY, MONEY.

      • Fannie says:

        Did you see where Jameis Winston was suspended for tonight game? He jumps up a table on the campus, and says “f her right in her p…sy ” His message to girls/women is just down right disturbing. Here we are trying to raise kids, and grandkids, and trying to deal with all the sexism on the internet, on t.v., in the video games, and the jerk thinks he has more value than girls because he’s a valuable football player. He’s on the road of no return.

  4. ANonOMouse says:

    I’m as fed up with the NFL as you are BB and I hope there is enough of a financial backlash to influence them. Also, I think it’s way past time that the NFL lost it’s tax exempt status and that the sponsors completely shut down their participation until the NFL gets in right, including firing Goodell who to my mind is a lying creep. I’m a huge football fan but I’ve been disgusted by the lack of discipline in the league for a long time especially since they allowed folks like PacMan Jones and Ben Rothlisberger to get away with criminal behavior over and over again with little to no consequence. The most disturbing thing to me is that there is no way to gauge how many of these cover-ups and smokescreens that The National Felons League has laid down to keep their criminals on the field. I can’t imagine being able to keep your job after multiple rape allegations, accusations of covering up a murder, knocking a woman out in an elevator then dragging her out into the hallway treating her as if she’s a rag doll, beating your pregnant girlfriend and dragging her down the stairs by the hair, switching your child until his legs bleed and look like whelped pin stripes. I’m just sickened beyond words.

    • bostonboomer says:

      I am too. At this point, I don’t care any more about this Patriots season. I’ll wait and see if anything is done about this before I watch any more football. I’m sure I’m not alone.

    • Pat Johnson says:

      So true. Here in MA we have a prominent athlete from the NE Pats waiting to stand trial for the murders of three people. That’s right: three people were gunned down by this entitled moron whose varsity record and behavior was well known before he signed onto a multi million dollar contract with the NE Patriots!

      Not only that but he is also accused of shooting an acquaintance in the face which, though it did not kill him, caused him to lose an eye!

      Yet because he was considered a talented and skilled player he was signed to play football for a team who preferred to “look the other way”.

      But if you can catch, throw, or carry a ball for a number of yards you are a “hero” to the fans who want a “win” at any cost. The fans will “cheer” you on regardless.

      Sickening.

      • bostonboomer says:

        At least the Pats got rid of Hernandez right away, but they never should have signed him in the first place.

        • Pat Johnson says:

          That was my point. He was already a known “gangbanger” and according to some reports the Pats knew of his habit of carrying weapons.

          Plus they were supposedly aware of his behavior off the field when he played college football but still went ahead and signed him anyway.

          I am sure this will all come out in court during the trial in order to tamp down his image and put some of the blame on the Pats.

          However, you can’t mistake the fact that they knowingly hired a thug because he was “good” with the ball.

          • bostonboomer says:

            I think Bill Belichick has started to believe he can reform bad guys–like he did with Randy Moss. But that only worked for a couple of years.

  5. shirt says:

    The NFL is getting hammered (justly IMHO) because their domestic violence problems are but a microcosm of a larger malaise across our entire society. And we don’t like it So we kick something kickable that’s representative of our entire society. If the NFL finds solutions to their problems it probably would not apply to society (The perps are wealthy enough to afford healing and redemption strategies not available to anyone else).

    So what are the Armed Forces going to do with the abusers who are granted absolution by their commanders? What of the ones who didn’t… is that answer all that good?

    The legal system issues millions of restraining orders which are ignored with impunity. Eventually, right now, all too many victims are either burned or buried, then forgotten. Just like in the armed forces, just like in the NFL.

    Shirt

    • bostonboomer says:

      Good question about the military. Violence against women is endemic across society, but the percentages are supposed to be higher for football players. There could be lots of reasons for that. They are pampered in school and then college, many of them take steroids, and concussions could also be a contributing factor to inability to control emotions and inhibit acting out with violence.

      • NW Luna says:

        “Pampered,” so they think the rules don’t apply to them. Or tha they can apologize afterwards, and then go right back to their 2-yr-old style of behavior. Impulsive, and no one gets taught ways to deal with frustration or anger. We need to be teaching — and modeling — civil behavior. We need practice in how to stop and observe your emotions as they rise and fall, rather than to lash out instantly. We need to have consequences for anyone who acts out violently and hurts others.

        Girls and women, do not put up with abusive behavior!

        • dakinikat says:

          Exactly. They are pampered through out their entire school experience. I’m tired of the gladiator culture in this country. It’s like the friggin’ Roman Empire all over again. Never did go for bread and circuses.

      • dakinikat says:

        I’m also glad to see the capital punishment on children topic being discussed. Hopefully, more people learn that it’s a destructive way to deal with children.

  6. janicen says:

    Great post, bb. It’s reassuring to watch people and sponsors turn away from the NFL. Attitudes don’t change overnight, but I’m pleasantly surprised at the reactions from some in the media and in professional sports.

  7. Fannie says:

    I just gotta say that a lot of this crap starts at a young age on the football field, and it has a lot to do with the parents. I went down to the park, and watched these young players, 9 and 10 year olds. More than watch I listened to the parents yelling comments like: Let’s hit someone, knock him out when he down, get him in the face. That kind of yelling was not very sportsman like. I wondered how many would hear it from DAD on the way home. Yelling, and making them feel bad. On the other hand, I did hear some fathers say “good job, good play, nice blocking, that’s the way to run, good game, just being positive by clapping for them, without yelling at their boy how he ought to man up and kick ass. He only encourages violence, like these boys are in combat zone and it’s war. Let them have fun, the way it use to be.

    So I think we also need to deal with this issue when they are younger, and bring the parents into it with rules and policies for them when they are on the field/arena.

    Just recently Boise was approved of $40 million dollar “Sports Plex” for the kids in schools here, they are cashing in, with the MONEY, MONEY, MONEY when it comes to sports. I am no saying that’s all a minus, it does have it pluses too. Girls will be involved, and will compete. I think it’s hard because I look at it as just a game, fun, but parents are uptight. Why, because some of the kids will have a free ride to colleges across this country, and will proudly be wearing a sports uniform in the process.

    Wouldn’t it be something to see some of these thick necks wear “I’m a domestic abuser, or I’m a physical abuser, or I’m a verbal abuser” on their uniforms. They go around leaving scars, how about we leave them with a few scars.

    I don’t know how many times Roger Goodell has said “I made a mistake, I got it wrong”. We are going to fix it for good. That he’s got professional women on his commission, and they are going to get it right. He ought to know what abuse is. That is what pisses me off. Not to mention the owners, because all they want to hand out is a band-aids.

    Football is becoming more and more dehumanizing. The fun is gone, and everybody wants to make money off of it. Girls better learn to “run for their lives” when it comes to Football.

  8. dakinikat says:

    Heisman Trophy winner suspended after vulgar, misogynistic outburst
    http://huff.to/1AXKlAW

    • bostonboomer says:

      He wasn’t suspended for rape, but . . . .

      Oh, that happened a couple of days a go. One game that he can’t play in. Big f’ing deal.