Domestic Violence: What will it take for the NFL to change?

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As Superbowl Sunday approaches, the media seems to be paying lots of attention to the Colin Kaepernick controversy which made it hard for the big game to find a big act for half-time. I support the former quarterback who got sacked from the San Francisco 49ers after taking a knee during the National Anthem as a form of peaceful protest. But the outrage made me pause. I wonder what it would take for our nation to have the same outrage for players who haven’t been fired, fined or even suspended after charges of violence against women?

Nearing the end of the regular season, the NFL faced a little scrutiny for how it handles violence against women. One case involved linebacker Reuben Foster who was arrested on a domestic violence charge in late November, was released by the San Francisco 49ers, then picked up by the Washington Redskins. Another recent case involved Kansas City’s star running back, Kareem Hunt. Days after Foster’s arrest, TMZ released video of Hunt shoving and kicking a woman outside his hotel residence in Cleveland. The incident happened nine months earlier, in February, and both the Chiefs and the NFL knew about the alleged assault at the time and did nothing to respond. Note: Foster saw his misdemeanor domestic violence battery charge dismissed by Florida prosecutors earlier this month, and Washington Redskins president Bruce Allen told reporters Tuesday that the team does not anticipate a suspension coming for the linebacker.

NFL player violence towards women was a hot topic for a few months and now it’s back to football as usual. We’ve heard almost nothing from the women harmed in the incidents or the NFL’s approach to making sure its employees get the help they need. I wondered how many more players have been involved in incidents of assault and discovered 926 arrest records of active NFL players published by USA Today. I am not into persecuting people before their day in court, so why is it important for me to review the records? It shows a pattern for the industry of glossing over domestic violence and sexual assault.  I’ve officially given up on the NFL seriously doing anything to help end domestic violence and their little ad campaigns don’t count.

Several news sources have also noted a spike in incidents of domestic violence on Super Bowl Sunday since the 1990s, while other studies have challenged the notion. The sources who say it’s a dangerous day for women point to the fact that people tend to drink more alcohol at parties and alcohol consumption can escalate tensions. Let’s face it, we don’t want this to be true so I am not surprised by the push back targeted toward the police departments that did report a significant rise in domestic violence calls on Super Bowl Sunday.

It seems that more people have left the game because of players like Colin Kaepernick who have taken a knee while ignoring the staggering number of players who have been involved in incidents of domestic violence.  I still like football, and it’s hard to ignore the roughly 1,700 men playing on NFL rosters who aren’t abusers. I’m sure the vast majority of them contribute to their communities, don’t hit women, their children or dogs but when we find out they do… we should have the same outrage. What’s it going to take for the league to stop fumbling its response?

If you need help on Sunday or any time, please reach out to Note: Computer use can be monitored and is impossible to completely clear. If fearful your Internet usage might be monitored, call the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1−800−799−7233 or TTY 1−800−787−3224.

Antionette Kerr is a media correspondent, author and publisher.

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