Dear Professional Football:
Tomorrow is the start of the season, but I’m giving you a sixteen game ban from my life. You can probably guess why, but allow me to be specific.
As a more than casual fan of the Giants in particular and the league in general, I’ve ignored a lot of bad behavior over the past few years including:
- The bounty scandal
- The concussion scandal
- The dog fighting scandal
- I even gave you a pass on the alleged homicide scandal because of the way you reacted.
But I can’t condone misogyny.
You make a big show of holding your employees to a high standard of behavior (See the Sportstrac NFL 2014 Suspension and Fine Tracker). You claim to enforce harsh discipline whenever and however you see fit. If a player takes marijuana or performance enhancing drugs, you suspend them for four games. They lose hundreds of thousands of dollars. If a player hits another player the wrong way on the field or makes an obscene gesture, they are suspended for a game or fined or both.
So what happens if a player hits his fiancé hard enough to knock her unconscious, then drags her out of an elevator, tosses her on the ground like a sack of dirty laundry and has a casual conversation with the security guard who happens by?
He gets a two game suspension. (See The NFL’s Uneven History of Punishing Domestic Violence)
Here are the messages I get from your decisions:
- It’s better to knock a woman out than smoke weed or cheat on a test.
- Punching your significant other is just as bad as two obscene gestures during a game.
- Domestic violence is not as bad as illegal contact during the game.
The overall message boils down to the safety and security of women is not important to the NFL.
I know we don’t know what happened in the elevator. I know you changed your policy in the wake of public backlash. I understand my decision to distance myself from you won’t make any difference to your business or your product. I’m sure you’ll make more money this year than you did last year. You will continue to be the most addictive and popular sport in America. But I need to get away from your message for a while. I want to give you an example of what a significant ban looks like. Maybe I’ll come back for the playoffs. Or maybe your next misogynistic misstep will turn me away for good.