Year after year, arrest after arrest, the National Football League’s domestic violence continues with no end in sight. It’s because the league and society simply do not care. If a player abuses off the field and has the skill or potential to contribute on the field, he’s all too often allowed to keep playing, says USA Today writer Mike Freeman.
“The NFL keeps entering this domestic violence Groundhog Day,” Freeman writes. “Why? Because teams still see talent as the primary factor in their decision-making, they will take chances on players.”
Freeman’s post is a response to the latest outrageous behavior of an NFL player – Seattle offensive lineman Chad Wheeler (in above photo). He was arrested and charged with first-degree domestic violence assault, domestic violence unlawful imprisonment and resisting arrest. He had ordered his girlfriend to bow down to him, she refused and he proceeded to dislocate her arm and choke her to the point of unconsciousness.
Wheeler apologized via social media, but it fell on deaf ears, Freeman writes of Wheeler, who was subsequently released by Seattle.
Domestic violence is an ugly, ugly tradition in the NFL. In October, Pittsburgh’s Jarron Jones beat up his girlfriend. Last Aug. 7, Washington’s Derrick Guice was accused of strangulation and assault and property destruction. Thirteen months ago, Miami’s Xavien Howard was arrested for pushing his fiancée against a wall.
One of the NFL’s best-paid receivers, Kansas City’s Tyreek Hill was charged with domestic assault in college (for punching and choking his pregnant girlfriend). He was later charged and suspended by the Chiefs for alleged child abuse, though charges were later dropped, and he will play in next week’s Super Bowl.
Freeman listed others of this ilk as well, and said: “If you have some talent, like Wheeler, you get a shot. If you have lots of talent, like Hill, you get many. To some teams, morals are for suckers.”
Though the league office is “far from perfect,” the NFL would prefer to ban these thugs, Freeman says, but the teams are too willing to overlook domestic violence. The NFL reflects the good and bad of society, which elected Donald Trump president (Freeman gives Bill Clinton, accused of rape and abuse, a pass).:
“The NFL does reflect a problematic world where a significant number of men still see a permission structure to physically attack women because, overall, many still get away with it. Donald Trump was accused by dozens of women of sexual assault and still became president. Singer R. Kelly weathered decades of allegations of abuse. Harvey Weinstein was a serial predator.”
Most pro football players don’t physically abuse women and children, but the NFL remains too lenient, too silent and too tolerant of the worst abusers. It’s still too generous in extending additional chances to those like the many abusers he mentions in the story. Their actions prove “they don’t truly care about the issue,” Freeman says.
An NFL arrest database lists 102 player arrests for domestic violence in the last 21 years. There have been 573 arrests of NFL players for an assortment of crimes in the same time period, an annual average of 27.