WASHINGTON — The NFL has learned nothing from the Ray Rice controversy two years ago. If anything, after new details regarding Giants kicker Josh Brown’s pattern of domestic abuse have come to light, it exposes just how blissfully ignorant the league remains about dealing with abuse.
Brown missed the Giants season opener on suspension — a one-game punishment administered by the league in Aug. 2016 — stemming from a May 2015 domestic violence charge. Weeks after the league’s ruling, however, before the regular season began, news surfaced of another Brown arrest, which occurred two months after his initial arrest, this time for violating a protective order placed against him by his then wife (from whom he’s now divorced).
The NFL defended its decision to levy a one-game suspension against Brown, despite its baseline six-game suspension for personal conduct policy violations involving assault and domestic violence, by saying Brown’s wife “declined to speak with us.” Blame the victim. Nice.
The league’s domestic violence policy gives special consideration to “possible mitigating or aggravating circumstances,” which presumably in this instance would be the victim declining to speak to the NFL
But the NFL also claims it was unable to obtain the statement Brown’s wife filed with the local court. Deadspin has an alternative theory, one which shows how easily the league could have obtained similar evidence — enough to warrant more than a one-game suspension — in Brown’s publicly accessible divorce file.
“In May 2015, the NFL was informed by the New York Giants of Josh Brown’s arrest for an incident in his home involving his then wife,” reads an NFL statement issued via Adam Schefter in August. “We began an investigation into the incident and circumstances surrounding it.”
Brown received his August suspension after the NFL concluded its investigation, an entire 10 months after it began.
New details in the case surfaced on Wednesday, and they include journal entries and emails written by Brown, obtained by SNY from the King County (Washington) Sheriff’s office, in which the kicker grimly confesses to viewing himself as a “God” and his wife “my slave.”
The police documents obtained by SNY further reveal Brown’s wife accused him of “more than 20” instances of domestic violence.
More from Brown’s journal, according to SNY: “I have physically, mentally, emotionally and verbally been a repulsive man,” Brown wrote in one of his journal entries. Just below that he circled the words “I have abused my wife.”
Giants owner John Mara and head coach Ben McAdoo publicly supported Brown in light of his arrests, with Mara saying he was “comfortable” with the team’s decision to re-sign Brown in the offseason, and McAdoo saying, “I do support Josh as a man, a father, and a player.”
The NFL has since issued a statement announcing it will reopen its investigation into Brown’s alleged abuse:
The NFL is now falling under harsh scrutiny, much as it did in Sept. 2014 after video footage surfaced of then Ravens running back Ray Rice physically abusing his then-fiancee in an elevator. Rice was initially suspended two games for the incident, and was later released by the Ravens and subsequently suspended indefinitely by the league only after the surveillance footage surfaced.
Another report included in the police documents, obtained by the New York Daily News, details an incident which occurred at the Pro Bowl in January of this year. Brown brought his wife and her children along for the trip, under the stipulation that Brown stay in a separate hotel room.
According to the document, one night Brown showed up at his wife’s room drunk and began pounding on the door demanding to be let in. His wife refused and called NFL and hotel security and Brown was then escorted away. The NFL then relocated her and the children to a different room where Brown wouldn’t know of their whereabouts.
This suggests the NFL knew of Brown’s violent behavior beyond his initial arrests. It suggests the NFL has — again — erred on the side of protecting its player over the abuse victim, and been willfully ignorant all the while.
What’s the right word for the NFL rolling out a brand new policy for dealing with domestic abusers, only to repeat the same mistake which led to it in the first place –pathetic?
Perhaps the baseline suspension for domestic violence should be stiffer; perhaps the baseline should actually be the baseline, and not allow for “possible mitigating or aggravating circumstances.”
Perhaps there will come a day when it doesn’t take video evidence of a player physically striking his domestic partner, when a second arrest raises necessary red flags, so the next Josh Brown doesn’t slip through the cracks of a policy intended to actually protect women.
The Giants have announced Brown will not travel with the team to London.