Once again the NFL has shown by its actions that the league’s priority is (and has always been) its own bottom line.
In the same week where Pittsburgh Steeler William Gay’s hard-hitting PSA about domestic violence (you can watch it HERE), received considerable air time, the NFL fined Gay for wearing purple cleats during a game. During Domestic Violence Awareness Month. To raise awareness about domestic violence. It is obviously more important to the NFL that its players wear the right colors at the right times instead of supporting players doing the right thing. Because like everything that the NFL is involved in, it comes down to dollars.
October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month and the NFL’s Pink October is a league-endorsed promotional opportunity – throughout October NFL players, coaches, and announcers wear pink to “help fight breast cancer”. It’s a great feel good story that gets tremendous coverage because the NFL donates proceeds from its awareness campaign, auctions, and the NFL shop, except that not a single penny from any of those proceeds goes to breast cancer research. Zero. That’s a topic for another day, but for a thoughtful discussion on October for cancer and domestic violence awareness, please check out Stephanie Wright’s 52 Mondays.
It was also the same week where there was talk out of Dallas that the Cowboys are working on a contract extension for Greg Hardy despite his lack of remorse for a DV incident with an ex-girlfriend in his recent past. The same week where the news out of Cleveland is that quarterback Johnny Manziel (aka: Johnny Football) is under investigation for a domestic violence incident (an incident that led to numerous 911 calls from witnesses, questioning by the police even though the investigation was suspended, and an “investigation” by the NFL. Manziel meanwhile was on the football field last Sunday. A year after the NFL went through the domestic violence situations involving Ray Rice, Hardy, and Adrian Peterson, it should be surprising that Manziel is even on the active roster but it’s not.
Thankfully there are players like Gay and Jets receiver Brandon Marshall who understand that the actions of players off the field are more important than their play on that same football field.
"He (Hardy) doesn't understand the magnitude of what happened last year, what he did and the atmosphere surrounding the NFL.I don't think that he gets it,” Marshall said. “I don't think that he learned his lesson. And he really needs to look himself in the mirror and ask himself, 'What type of person do I want to be?'"
Or Giants linebacker Mark Herzlich, who with his wife Danielle, works tirelessly to combat domestic violence and sexual abuse (you can read about him standing up for women HERE). The same Mark Herzlich who is working to change the culture of NFL locker rooms.
"The majority of men don’t commit violence against women, but men over all need to stand up to other men. Don’t just hold yourself accountable. Hold others accountable to treat women how they deserve to be treated"
The NFL is out of excuses.
It’s time for the league to decide if its actions are just another public relations push, or a desire to make real changes.