NFL criticized for inaction of players

By Sam Deal, Sports Editor

The NFL season has been underway for three weeks, but football is far from the topic many fans are concerned with.

The videos of Ray Rice and his then-fiancee, now wife, Janey Palmer grabbed the attention of NFL fans not only because of how shocking they are, but how the NFL has failed to appropriately respond.

Unfortunately, Rice isn’t the only player to have domestic violence altercations recently.

Superstar Adrian Peterson, running back of the Minnesota Vikings, was indicted on charges of negligent injury of a child on Sept. 11. Jonathan Dwyer, running back for the Arizona Cardinals, was arrested for aggravated assault after head-butting his wife on Sept. 17. Ray McDonald of the San Francisco 49ers was arrested for domestic violence against his pregnant fiancee on Aug. 30, according to USA Today NFL player arrest database.

This is not a random spike in violence, but a pattern that the NFL has long ignored.

A year ago the NFL was in the middle of a concussion lawsuit filed by over 4,500 former players, many of whom are now disabled after years of failure by the league to take notice of the lasting effects of concussions.

The focus of many will not be on the game of football, but the effect it has on the men who play.

Each of these issues have their differences, but there is one clear correlation: Behavioral issues resulting from violence in football.

While concussions have shown to alter moods and affect a person’s decision-making, as well as their ability to handle emotions, they are not the only explanation as to why domestic abuse is a prevalent problem in the NFL.

Professional athlete culture doesn’t follow societal norms that most people in this country have come to understand. Many of these athletes have been conditioned through their entire life to care about only one thing.

Football in particular is in a constant state of conflict, and the players are taught that the appropriate response is violence to achieve their goal.

Under no circumstances is this an excuse for athletes to abuse people off of the football field.

The NFL, until this season, has shown little concern for the safety of the people who are with their players outside the game. This was clearly evident after Rice was suspended for just two games after the first video was released.

He has since been cut by his team and suspended indefinitely.

The situation has been a black mark on the league, which will remain for a long time unless the NFL takes action to change the culture.

Many young kids in this country idolize football players and hope to be just like them when they’re older; this keeps many of the best young U.S. athletes playing football.

What if mothers of young boys see the professionals, beloved by their sons, either disabled by the effects of concussions or abusing women and children because it is the only way they’ve ever known how to handle challenging situations?

The answer is simple: the children will not be allowed to play.

The NFL has spent the last two seasons trying to reduce concussion injuries with rule changes that limit the amount of contact to players’ heads.

Now the league must be proactive, showing its players that domestic abuse is unacceptable and will not be tolerated.

The one thing all athletes care about is the game; taking it away is the best way to show that this is serious and cannot continue to happen.

On Sept. 14 ESPN analyst and NFL Hall of Fame inductee Cris Carter revealed the mindsets of many players.

“We are in a climate right now, I don’t care what it is, take them off the field. Because you know what? As a man, that is the only thing we really respect. We don’t respect women, we don’t respect kids. Take them off the field because they’d respect that,” said Carter.

Rice has been suspended, Peterson’s team has held him out of games, Dwyer’s season was ended by his team; only the San Francisco 49ers have allowed McDonald to continue playing.

The removal of players from the game is certain to get the attention of everyone connected to the NFL, but it is not enough to change the culture.

The league needs to be more proactive in prevention of these situations to avoid a repeat of what has happened during this season.

Domestic violence needs to have a larger role in the annual rookie symposium, and there need to be more outlets for current players to go to off the field.

With strict discipline and early education, the NFL can move on from this black spot on its record, protecting their players and families.

Protecting the integrity of the NFL has been a major goal of NFL commissioner Roger Goodell. He has an opportunity do that here by showing millions of NFL fans, men in particular, that striking a woman or child has no place in American society.