Bryant Gumbel Just Pointed Out The NFL’s Biggest Problem

“NFL honchos are either unable or unwilling to address domestic violence properly”

The National Football League once again is coming under fire for apparent under-reactions to its players being accused of domestic assault.

The latest case involves New York Giants kicker Josh Brown, who the Giants re-signed this past offseason, despite knowledge of a domestic abuse case involving Brown and his then-wife Molly, for which the kicker was arrested in May 2015 near Seattle.

The NFL suspended Brown for one game to start this season after its investigation into the incident yielded little new detail, with the NFL stating its investigators “had insufficient information to corroborate prior allegations.” Further, local authorities had declined to press charges against Brown.

But last week, authorities in Washington released letters and journal entries written by Brown detailing his repeated abuse of his wife. Once those documents became public, the NFL reopened its investigation of Brown and the Giants left the kicker behind when they traveled to London for their game last Sunday. They have since released Brown.

[quote position="right" is_quote="true"]NFL honchos are either unable or unwilling to address domestic violence properly.[/quote]

The league and the Giants are being heavily criticized for their handling of Brown’s case, with longtime broadcaster Bryant Gumbel among those taking the league to task.

“The league’s latest embarrassment is Josh Brown, who’s now the ex-kicker of the New York Giants,” Gumbel said Tuesday on HBO’s Real Sports with Bryant Gumbel, “not because he abused his wife with frightening regularity for years, but because others found and exposed the kind of detailed evidence of that abuse that the NFL didn’t.”

There have been several instances of players being accused of domestic violence in recent years, with the most prominent being that of former Baltimore Ravens running back Ray Rice. After the league suspended Rice for just two games following a domestic abuse incident in 2014, video evidence emerged showing Rice striking his then-fiancé (now his wife) and dragging her out of an Atlantic City casino elevator, leading the NFL to suspend Rice indefinitely and to institute a mandatory six-game suspension for any players found to have committed abuse against a spouse or partner.

The league faced an additional level of criticism after it became known that Rice made no effort to hide the video from the league. And while an independent investigation found no evidence to confirm reports that league officials had seen the video before it was released to the public, investigation leader and former FBI director Robert Mueller did assert that “The NFL should have done more with the information that it had and it should have taken additional steps to obtain all available information about the incident.”

That critique speaks to the heart of Gumbel’s Real Sports closing commentary regarding the NFL’s handing of Brown’s case. Gumbel’s take can be seen here in its entirety or read below:

Finally tonight, a simple question: Just what do Roger Goodell and his NFL owners think domestic abuse looks like?

I ask because the guys in charge of pro football seem to find it repulsive only when confronted with the ugliest and most obvious kinds of evidence. The league's latest embarrassment is Josh Brown, who's now the ex-kicker of the New York Giants, not because he abused his wife with frightening regularity for years, but because others found and exposed the kind of detailed evidence of that abuse that the NFL didn't.

So now, as was the case in the infamous Ray Rice episode, the league is once again claiming lack of details as the reason for giving slaps on the wrist to a guy who'd already admitted to battering his wife. Predictably, the commissioner and his slew of TV apologists are claiming concern, expressing sympathy, and asking for understanding. None of which is deserved because we've seen this act before and it sadly lacks the ring of truth as they try to bury the story.

What seems pathetically and abundantly clear is that NFL honchos are either unable or unwilling to address domestic violence properly—that they just don't prioritize the abuse of women. Deflated footballs? They exhaust all avenues. Battered women? Not so much. Look, I'm sure it's not as profitable, but instead of trying to appeal to women by draping players in patronizing pink, how about paying better attention to black and blue?


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