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The NFL Remains Tone Deaf In Prioritizing Wins Over Domestic Violence

Washington fumbled its press conference on Reuben Foster, reinforcing the perception that the NFL doesn't give a damn about women.

The NFL now finds itself in the familiar position of fighting the stigma of being a league that doesn’t care about the welfare or safety of women. 

Sports reporter Kimberly Martin appeared on ESPN’s Outside The Lines and spoke to this point. She referred to the way the NFL meticulously investigated New England quarterback Tom Brady’s Deflategate scandal, but failed to talk to Hunt or the woman involved during their preliminary investigation.   

“The NFL tortured us with the deflategate situation…pages upon pages of reports about deflated footballs,” Martin said referencing an article she recently wrote on the NFL’s handling of the Kareem Hunt and Reuben Foster situations.

“We’re talking about violence against people, against women, to me that should rise to a level of ‘we’re going to leave no stone unturned…do everything we can or at least go in and talk to the guy’ that is at the center of this issue.”


Martin feels like the NFL should have been more aggressive in getting the tape of Kareem Hunt’s transgressions, despite the fact that the NFL doesn’t have police power or subpoena power and there’s not much the league can do if the police or a place of business don’t want to turn over a tape.


“I get that,” Martin replied. …” fans also say that as well. The NFL is not the police or district attorney or anything like that, but the league has also said that it doesn’t need to see convictions to uphold some sort of suspension of players.”

Dallas Cowboys running back Ezekiel Elliott knows this all too well. He was suspended six games for a variety of incidents that didn’t garner him a criminal conviction but violated the league’s conduct policy. 

At the end of the day, we have to blame the commissioner for why this situation has become a PR nightmare for the NFL, which had made great strides in addressing the seriousness of these kinds of crimes following the Ray Rice scandal.


At a time when the league was in crisis and the public needed to hear from NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell — the leader of a cultural and corporate juggernaut who gets paid $25 million a year to handle tight spots — he was nowhere to be found.

And the Washington Redskins sent African-American icon Doug Williams in front of the cameras to take the heat for signing Reuben Foster a few days after he was released for supposedly slapping his girlfriend at a team hotel in Cleveland.


Julia Rosen on Twitter

NFL players commit crimes at 13 percent of the national average… the NFL doesn’t have a domestic violence problem; it has an NFL problem.” https://t.co/3W0QsWrZhN h/t @murshedz

 

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Not only did Williams fumble the press conference, he made the situation worse with what people perceive as insensitive comments. 

Justin Nails on Twitter

We’ve got people who are in high, high, high, high places that have done far worse, and if you look at it realistically, they’re still up there. This is small potatoes [compared to] a lot of things out there.” The #Redskins should be embarrassed. https://t.co/e0PlT82joE

 

It was a bad strategy and a no-win situation from the beginning. It ended up with Williams, a guy who has always been a man of integrity and character, looking like some sexist that doesn’t care about abused women. 

Williams apologizes for his comments regarding Foster | Nov 30, 2018

Doug Williams apologized for his comments regarding the Reuben Foster situation, singling out the organization, his wife, mother, sister and daughters.



 

That’s exactly why Redskins cowardly owner Dan Snyder sent Williams to address the issue in the first place. The Redskins organization wanted Williams to go out there and express how the organization truly felt. Better him than Snyder, who already catches daily slack for continuing to keep the racist and offensive Redskins Indian logo despite thousands of requests to change it. The Skins owner didn’t want to be in the way of return fire or be seen as a hypocrite.


It didn’t matter. Williams reinforced the perception that the NFL doesn’t give a damn about women and the owner’s reputation took another hit in the process. It’s an upsetting turn of events because we know that most of the players, coaches, league officials and executives are fathers and husbands and do a great job of leading in the workplace and in the household.

But history shows us that the country has a negative perception about the NFL that the league hasn’t been able to shake. Doug Williams explained why he signed Reuben Foster, but there’s nothing he could have said to begin with to justify it to the masses. Williams says he spoke to several character witnesses who vouched for Foster. The deal closer, of course, was Foster’s ability to help the Redskins win the NFC East.

Williams didn’t seem to care about the potential feedback. Maybe he feels like he made his sacrifices in the name of social activism and the advancements of minorities in this country years ago when he became the first of just two Black quarterbacks to win a Super Bowl. Maybe he felt like he doesn’t have to do any more humanitarian work. It was a business decision.

Mistake for Redskins to claim Foster after domestic violence arrest | Pro Football Talk | NBC Sports

Redskins VP Doug Williams said the acquisition of Reuben Foster was “small potatoes” compared to other things, but Mike Florio explains why Washington should have just waited. #NBCSports #ProFootballTalk #WashingtonRedskins #ReubenFoster #DougWilliams ” Subscribe to NBC Sports: https://www.youtube.com/nbcsports ” Watch Live Sports on NBCSports.com: http://www.nbcsports.com/live ” Get more Pro Football Talk on NBC Sports: https://profootballtalk.nbcsports.com/ NBC Sports Group serves sports fans 24/7 with premier live events, insightful studio shows, and compelling original programming.


 

In a country where the President has been accused of multiple allegations of sexual assault against women and supported men who were accused of crimes against women, Williams never condoned Foster’s alleged actions.

He’s the Senior VP of player personnel and an old-school football guy existing in a transitioning America. He was trying to make moves to keep his job. If Washington wanted to deliver the politically correct answer, then they should have sent someone higher up the food chain.

Williams should have called upon the knowledge of the many women that he loves and surrounds himself with every day, then he would have understood the severity of the Reuben Foster accusations and saved himself a lot of grief. 

JR Gamble joined The Shadow League in 2012. The Deputy Editor and Senior Writer is in his 23rd year of covering sports and culture professionally. He began working in major newspapers in 1995 and has covered a cornucopia of major sports and entertainment topics across different mediums, including radio, magazines and national TV.

Gamble has covered World Series, Super Bowls, NBA and MLB All-Star Games, Final Fours, World Cup, NASCAR events and done hundreds of exclusive interviews over the years. His passion is baseball, the culturing of baseball and preserving and documenting the historically-impactful accomplishments and contributions of African-Americans in baseball.