Domestic Violence Double Standards

Domestic violence. Two words that I’ve had to think about way, way too much lately; specifically with regards to Greg Hardy, who I’m also sick of thinking about. But for this article I’m going to bring up another name that you might have forgotten about in the NFL’s domestic violence mini-epidemic.

Ray Rice.

Remember him? The guy who punched his wife unconscious before getting on an elevator in Atlantic City in February 2014. The NFL’s original domestic violence case.

Well, Ray Rice is back in the news with his announcement today that he hopes to someday work for the NFL to raise awareness of domestic violence.

In past articles, I’ve said that I typically want to give athletes the benefit of the doubt with regards to most things. And that being said, I want to believe that Ray Rice has sincere desires to make a positive impact on the NFL in light of his awful mistake 2 February’s ago.

In case you need a refresher on Rice’s story, here you go, cliff notes style.

In February of 2014, Rice and his fiancé Janay Palmer were arrested, detained, and released from jail on charges of a “minor domestic dispute.” TMZ released a video of Rice dragging an unconscious Palmer from an Atlantic City elevator a few days later, and in July the NFL suspended Rice for 2 games. You know, because they need to at least pretend to care.

Then, on September 8th, TMZ released the video of Rice punching Palmer out cold before dragging her lifeless body into the elevator and later dragging her out. The Ravens immediately released Rice hours after the video was released. The NFL then took until the next day to suspend Rice “indefinitely.”

Then came the controversy. The NFL claimed they had never seen the video of Rice punching Palmer until TMZ released it. “You’re telling me that the NFL, one of the most powerful organization on the planet, could not access a video of one of its high profile athletes committing a horrific crime before freaking TMZ could?! Are you kidding me?” I thought.

It was an absolute debacle, both for Rice and the NFL. Rice hasn’t played a down since being released, as he shouldn’t because there is no place in this league for a man who domestically abuses a woman.

But, through all of this, Palmer stood by Rice’s side and supported him. Publicly appearing at press conferences with him, having his back, doing interviews in support of him, even finishing the engagement and getting married.

And though I’m usually not much for athlete apologies, I really did feel for Rice because his remorse was clear and I truly believe he just made a terrible mistake that he’ll regret for the rest of his life.

But Palmer’s remorse also tells me she was nearly equally involved in the incident and feels responsibility for it as well, which doesn’t get talked about in the media because female-on-male domestic violence cases are mostly a joke to the general public. But that’s a different topic for a different day.

And with Rice’s announcement that he is hoping to join the NFL in a role of raising domestic violence awareness is big; big for Rice, and big for the league’s image in trying to come out of a sort of Dark Age in player crime.

But with Rice’s announcement came a sad realization on my part that isn’t remotely surprising, but maddening and unfair.

Right now, the words ‘domestic violence’ seem to be synonymous with Greg Hardy’s name; and that was the first thing that came up in my mind with Rice’s announcement.

I’ve written on the league’s despicable enabling of Hardy solely because he’s a good player, and how unacceptable it is. But at the same time, the league has taken a strong public stand with regards to Rice’s case, suspending him for a really long time in conjunction with all the owners seemingly banding together to not employ him.

So it feels like they’ve done right with the Rice case. But they haven’t. Not even close. Everyone is lacking one key ingredient here.

Consistency.

There is only one reason why Greg Hardy still has a job in the NFL and Ray Rice doesn’t, and probably won’t. It’s because pass rushers are in higher demand and harder to find than running backs these days.

Think about it. Every team in today’s NFL needs a pass rush, it’s imperative to defensive success, and pass rushers are more overvalued than ever. But while every team also needs a running game, running backs have become much, much easier to find; as teams are now finding starting backs in late rounds of the draft and the Patriots just sign a new guy off the street and he runs for 200 yards the same week. So, in today’s NFL, the pass rusher is just worth astronomically more than the running back.

Greg Hardy is a very talented pass rusher, and is being paid and treated as such by the Cowboys, who continue to put up and enable all of his remorseless bullshit that hurts my mind every time he does something new and stupid.

Ray Rice is a talented running back, but running backs aren’t worth a lot anymore, so no team is willing to take the flak that will come with signing Rice when they can just go get another guy that can’t do the job as well as Rice, but won’t have all the baggage and won’t make their team image look so bad.

That, right there, is what’s wrong with the league and why I find myself trying not to like or support the NFL at any opportunity I can get. If a player is talented and can play a vital role, he’ll be coddled and enabled, no matter what kind of shit he puts up.

But if a player, like Rice, isn’t as useful to teams, they won’t even give him a remote glance because the negative pushback that would come from the signing just isn’t worth it to NFL teams’ precious reputations.

Again, let’s look specifically at the cases of Rice and Hardy.

As soon as the video of Rice punching Palmer was made public, Rice was released, suspended, ridiculed, and all good thoughts of him were exiled by the thought police. When the pictures of the injuries sustained by Hardy’s ex-girlfriend after his savage beating of her, the only thing that happened was a bunch of angry bloggers, feminists, and just people in general calling for Hardy’s job.

Did anything remotely close to what happened to Rice happen to Hardy? Absolutely not; in fact, I didn’t hear a peep from the Dallas Cowboys or the NFL after the pictures were released. They just sort of pretended that it wasn’t happening and that all was right with the world.

It’s completely unacceptable that guys like Hardy are enabled, while guys like Rice are spurned and ignored. Have some goddamn consistency and humanity. Have the balls to do what’s right and evaluate both these situations in the same light.

No amount of talent should ever dictate whether or not a player gets punished for breaking the freaking law and committing one of the worst crimes known to man short of murder. That’s just not how this world works.

But it’s how the NFL works. If you’ve got talent, you’ve got a spot in the league, no matter what you do. But if you’re expendable and your position isn’t valued as much as it should be, you better be an absolutely perfect human being, or one slip up and your job is gone.

Should this change? Of course; but will it? Not a chance. Money is king in the NFL, always has been and always will be. That will never change, and Greg Hardy makes the league a lot of money off his talent and merchandise credibility.

And this, ladies and gentlemen, is a problem; a serious freaking problem. A problem that would take years to change because it’s deeply rooted in the culture of not just the NFL, but all professional sports.

I’m tired of writing about it, but I know this isn’t the last article I’ll be writing on this subject, and that makes me sad. But still I hold out hope that things can change, and these words will be my last on this despicable subject.

But until next time, I’ll let these be my last words.

God didn’t put men and women on this planet to be enemies, so stop treating them as such. Love each other, and be willing to forgive after an argument or dispute instead of looking to harm to get your point across. Violence is never the answer, in any case.

Thanks for reading…

-Ryan

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Domestic Violence Double Standards

Ryan’s Rants: The NFL’s Culture of Ignorance in Favor of Talent

Sunday afternoon, my dad and I were watching the Cowboys-Giants game. Following a sterling Dallas victory, the Fox postgame show came on. After the highlights, host Curt Menafee harmlessly urged the rest of his panel, “Guys, let’s talk about Greg Hardy for a second.”

I immediately switched the channel to Formula 1 racing, much to the surprise of my dad. He looked at me with a puzzled expression on his face, silently asking me, “What was that for?” I explained, my exact emotions regarding Greg Hardy.

“I don’t even want to hear them talk about Greg Hardy”

Every time I hear his name or watch a Dallas Cowboys game, I find myself asking these questions constantly. There aren’t a lot of human beings on this earth that I’m just totally and completely disgusted by. Greg Hardy is one of these human beings.

What the hell is Greg Hardy even still doing in this godforsaken league? Why is he still allowed to play football under the tag of one of the biggest and most powerful organizations in the free world?

Look, we all have qualities about us that we’re not proud of and would love to change. None of us are perfect, but I’ll be damned if I’ve ever met anyone as half-hearted and genuinely awful as Greg Hardy.

My first contact with Greg Hardy came from an October, 2013 version of Sports Illustrated, in which he was profiled by Greg Bedard, (I believe, don’t quote me on that).

The article was written during Hardy’s 15 sack breakout campaign in 2013, while he was in Carolina.

Hardy sporting his trademark eyeblack for the Panthers. Photo by Chuck Burton for AP
Hardy sporting his trademark eyeblack for the Panthers. Photo by Chuck Burton for AP

The on-field brilliance was well documented – and don’t get me wrong, Hardy is an extremely talented pass rusher. But, briefly mentioned was something that really got my attention and raised some red flags for me.

While at Ole Miss, Hardy was frequently late to practice and meetings, and had a tendency to mix it up at practice a little bit; but would still produce on the field. When he got to Carolina, those things persisted.

The line that really got me was this. Paraphrasing, Hardy was described as being “brilliant when he wanted to be.” Basically, if Hardy didn’t feel like playing hard or giving his best, he flat out wouldn’t.

Does that just sound disgustingly selfish to anyone else?

I know that in any sport I play I’m always getting on guys that I don’t feel are giving 100% effort. I’ve got your back, I fully expect you to have mine. And particularly in football – an already tough game where teamwork is absolutely imperative – the thought of someone not going to war for you because they don’t feel like it just repulses me.

So red flags were going up all over the place for me. I usually like to give the benefit of the doubt to athletes because I know, contrary to popular belief, their jobs are quite difficult. But with Greg Hardy, who I hadn’t even known until this article, I had already taken that liberty away from him.

Fast forward about a year. The article had come and gone; Hardy had been brilliant on the field in 2013, but suddenly his 2014 season was abruptly halted by a bit of a shocking revolution.

A report came out last September that Hardy was being accused of domestically assaulting his ex-girlfriend. Considering the recent escapades of Ray Rice and Adrian Peterson, domestic violence and the NFL were going together like peanut butter and jelly. And the Hardy news only contributed to the epidemic.

Was I particularly surprised? Considering my opinion of Hardy, absolutely not. But when further details were released that a part of Hardy’s assault was allegedly throwing his girlfriend down violently on a couch full of assault rifles, I was shocked.

How can one human being treat another this badly? Especially when that human being is the one that you’ve given your heart and soul to? It just hurt my heart to think about, and made me angry as well. But the psyche behind domestic violence is a totally different subject for a different day.

Anyway, following the allegations – which Hardy was acquitted of, but never publicly denied – Roger Goodell did his typical Roger Goodell thing and waited around on making a decision. Why? Because Greg Hardy’s a good football player that sells jerseys and tickets and makes Goodell a lot of money, so Goodell won’t immediately suspend him even if his actions are absolutely despicable.

It was typical Goodell, and just completely follows suit with the NFL’s culture of ignorance in favor of talent.

Hardy didn’t play another down in 2014 and didn’t play another down for the Panthers, and rightly so. I began to think that maybe the NFL was making a change for the better and actually taking a stand against domestic violence.

I was wrong.

I was in a hotel room in Tampa Bay this past March when I flipped on SportsCenter to discover some news that I wasn’t at all happy about. Greg Hardy had been activated from the NFL’s restricted list and had been signed by the Dallas Cowboys.

You’ve got to be kidding me. We’re really going to pull this shit again NFL? Greg Hardy is just too talented and makes too much money for the league for us to really care about the fact that he showed no remorse for allegedly, (I have to say allegedly because he was acquitted only because of a lack of evidence I might add), committing one of the worst crimes I know of.

In staying true with their typical policy, the NFL suspended Hardy for the first four games of 2015, because they have to at least pretend they care, right?

Photo by Associated Press
Photo by Associated Press

So, for the most part, we all forgot about Hardy. We all went on worrying about bigger and better things. But, when Hardy was activated before week 5, he re-entered all of our minds in the worst way possible.

In his first access to the media, Hardy was asked how he would play. His response? “I’m gonna come out guns blazing.” He then proceeded to make misplaced and disrespectful comments about Tom Brady’s wife, Gisele.

After coming back from an incident in which he was accused of throwing his girlfriend down on a couch full of assault rifles, the first words out of Greg Hardy’s mouth were “guns blazing.”

At this point, we’ve crossed the line between poor media comments and just genuinely being an absolutely awful human being.

Greg Hardy had to pretend to respect women and be sorry for what he did for 12 minutes. TWELVE MINUTES. And he couldn’t even do that. But what did the NFL do about it? Absolutely nothing. No fines, no suspension, no public comments, nothing. And the Cowboys? All they did was “talk sternly” with Hardy to let him know that this wasn’t okay.

What are we, in pre-school? Talk sternly? Are we going to put him in timeout next? Come the hell on, this is the NFL, Greg Hardy is a fully grown man, you really think he’s going to positively respond to a stern talk? Once again, Hardy is given a pass by his employers because his talent is just so immense that the significant issues he brings are effectively ignored.

And then a new chapter was written in the Greg Hardy this past Sunday. It was normal football stuff, with Hardy getting into a shouting match on his own sideline with the special teams coach and anyone who would listen to him. How bad was it? Dez Bryant played the role of peacemaker; that’s right, Dez Bryant.

And after the game, as Hardy was talking to the media again, he interrupted every question with “no comment, next question.” So instead of handling the issue and addressing it like a man, Hardy simply acted like a little kid and avoided all questions.

But I’ve written enough words to give you an accurate impression of how awful Hardy is, let’s move on to the other side of the issue.

As reporters asked Cowboys owner Jerry Jones about Hardy, he responded with, “He’s one of the real leaders on the team and he earns it. That’s the kind of thing that inspires.”

Holy shit you can’t be serious with me right now.

You’re telling me that throwing a massive sideline tantrum earns you the tag of being a leader and inspires your teammates? As the kids these days would say, I can’t even.

When they initially signed Hardy, the Cowboys – and specifically Jones – emphasized that they’d “done their homework” on him and that there would be no more problems. Well guess what, there are still freaking problems guys.

Hardy’s actions are awful, and he clearly has no place in this league, but he really isn’t the real issue here. It’s everyone that gives him a damn job and lets him be an awful person in the limelight.

The NFL’s culture of ignoring big time issues because a player is immensely talented has to change. The fact that Greg Hardy continues to be enabled by Jerry Jones, Jason Garrett and Roger Goodell is unacceptable. After all he’s done he has never paid a single dollar in fines to the NFL for reasons off the field, and the worst thing that’s ever happened to him is a stern talking to.

That is not okay at all. But nonetheless, as Jones’ comments showed, Hardy will continued to be mollycoddled, endorsed and enabled because he’s good at sacking the quarterback. And further, Jerry Jones came out today and said that the Cowboys hope to work out an extension for Hardy, which means he’ll potentially be guaranteed a spot in this league for even longer.

There aren’t enough words for me to accurately express just how hurt and angry this makes me as a man.

NFL, you do enough awful things as is, and with your bullshit breast cancer “Crucial catch” campaign every October you even pretend to give a rat’s ass about women and how they view your league. So do them another favor and stop enabling a man who gives shows less respect toward them than few people I’ve ever seen.

Fire him and keep him far away. He has no place in your league and you need to realize that. You will make plenty of money without Greg Hardy, I promise. I say that because I know that’s the only thing you greedy blowhards care about.

His talent should not even matter when you stop to consider the things that he has done. Overlook it and remove him from your brand.

If you continue to enable Greg Hardy, you will continue to lose fans like me, and we’ll all look like one of the reporters listening to Jerry Jones’ mind-bogglingly insensitive tirade.

Hardy 1
Did you really just say that Jerry?

Thanks for reading…

-Ryan

Ryan’s Rants: The NFL’s Culture of Ignorance in Favor of Talent