On Oct. 21, the NFL placed New York Giants kicker Josh Brown on the commissioner’s exempt list — a limbo state where a player is neither part of nor kicked out of the NFL — following the release of details on Brown’s history of abuse against his ex-wife Molly Brown.
Josh Brown had a track record of domestic violence — which the league knew of — and the NFL did nothing about it. The league claims to care about this issue, but this decision shows that the NFL, led by its commissioner, Roger Goodell, is completely hypocritical and doesn’t really care at all about domestic violence. This carelessness is evident in the details of the Josh Brown situation.
On Oct. 19, members of various media outlets obtained documents detailing the chilling history of Josh abusing his ex-wife. In some letters, and most importantly in a journal, Josh Brown openly admitted to abusing Molly, although in a recent statement he said he never actually struck her. “I viewed myself as God basically and she was my slave,” read one excerpt from the journal.
Josh Brown was arrested in May of 2015 on charges of domestic violence. The police report said he grabbed the wrist of then-wife while she was on the phone, following an argument the two had earlier. The NFL’s response? A one-game suspension. And then the Giants gave him a contract extension later in 2016, despite Giants general manager John Mara saying the team has zero tolerance for domestic violence.
In January of 2016, Josh was in the Pro Bowl. When his wife and children were staying with him in a hotel, Josh Brown allegedly came to the hotel room drunk one night and started slamming on the door, demanding to be let in. Molly became frightened and called NFL security to remove her and the rest of the family to an undisclosed location, away from Josh Brown, according to Josh Alper of “ProFootballTalk.” He received no discipline from the NFL or his team.
Before Oct. 19, the NFL undeniably had two cases of possible domestic violence, and it essentially did nothing. In total, Josh Brown lost one game’s pay of approximately $70,000.
The documents released on Oct. 19 revealed that Molly told police on the day of Josh Brown’s arrest that he had been abusive more than 20 times, including when she was pregnant with their child in 2009.
Twenty times. That is outrageous.
Every year, the NFL pulls out all the bells and whistles to indicate its support of various causes. Players wear pink in October to support breast cancer awareness. The NFL participates in the “NOMORE” campaign, which is specifically aimed at preventing domestic abuse and helping victims of domestic abuse. Every year, the NFL claims to support all the right things and says it does not tolerate any player misconduct whatsoever. But the NFL clearly doesn’t have its priorities straight.
It spent more than one year and hundreds of thousands of dollars on attorneys trying to prove Tom Brady interfered with the inflation of footballs. It fined the New England Patriots $1 million for that “crime.” But a man arrested for attacking his wife? A slap on the wrist.
Roger Goodell placing Josh Brown on the commissioner’s exempt list essentially amounts to paid leave.
When Brady was ultimately convicted of his most heinous offense, he served a four-game suspension and could not have any contact with his team — not even through text messages. On the commissioner’s exempt list, Josh Brown can still attend team meetings and exercise at the team facilities while the NFL investigates his case.
What the hell is there to investigate?
NFL officials said they previously tried to obtain the documents that were released on Oct. 19, but the sheriff’s department in King County, Washington, denies that claim. Even if the NFL really couldn’t access the documents, there certainly was enough public evidence that Josh Brown was dangerous. NFL security escorted Josh Brown’s family to a safe place at the Pro Bowl — how can the league claim ignorance? If the NFL is the bastion of virtue it claims to be, Josh Brown had no place in the league, and something should have been done years ago.
If we can learn anything from this, it’s that the NFL doesn’t care one bit about the social issues plaguing our society. It will fine players for “excessively” celebrating, not talking to reporters and wearing customized cleats. It won’t skip a beat before suspending a player for drunkenly jumping into a canal or smoking marijuana. But abusing another human being? The league will only interfere when it looks bad if they don’t.
As a man, I’m outraged. As a fan, I’m disgusted. I’ll still be tuning in on Sundays, but it will be harder to watch a product whose commissioner cares deeply about “protecting the shield” (the NFL’s logo) but doesn’t care about shielding those who need protection. No wonder the NFL’s ratings are down.