NFL Domestic Violence Saga:
Follow The Money
Despite What The NFL, Team Owners, And Players Say, Fixing The Off-Field Violence Problem Is Not As Important As Winning, Selling Merchandise And Signing Billion-Dollar Television Deals
By Wayne Schutsky
Modern Times Magazine
Feb. 10, 2015 — The NFL season is barely over and already most fans have forgotten about the domestic violence issues that plagued the recent season. It just goes to show that the average NFL fan’s memory is about as near-sighted as Mr. Magoo.
There was the Ray Rice incident, in which the former Ravens back knocked his girlfriend unconscious. Then there was news that Vikings star Adrian Peterson whipped his toddler in the nuts with a stick. Though those two storylines dominated the airwaves — and broadband serves, too — they were many more.
And, lest Cardinals fans feel left out, don’t forget Daryl Washington. The star linebacker sat out last year with a full season suspension due to multiple violations of the league’s drug policy. But, he could be facing additional games next season because of a domestic dispute in which he broke his ex-girlfriend’s collarbone.
If (and it’s actually a big if, sadly) Washington is suspended for additional games, most Cardinals fans will likely react with dismay. Rather than realizing that a domestic assailant is getting (much less) than what he deserves for his behavior, they’re just going to be upset that he can’t help their favorite sports franchise to win the big game.
Sadly, I, too, was one of those people.
When news first broke of the Washington situation in 2013, my first thought was, “How is this going to affect the Cards?” Not, “This guy should be in prison.”
That’s an awful mentality and it reflects the point-of-view of most of the NFL’s fanbase. It’s why Washington is still on the Cardinals roster: he will make them money when he eventually does return. Between his on-the-field performance and jersey sales, Washington still equals dollar signs for the Cardinals despite the large contract (that he’s done little to earn over the past year and a half) and off-field issues.
On a similar note, I’m sure the Minnesota Vikings and their fans are going to welcome back Adrian Peterson with open arms once he is eligible to return. If, in a surprising turn of events the team stays away, I guarantee you there will be plenty of teams lined up seeking his services.
Why would teams grsavitate to a child abuser?
Why else? Money.
Peterson puts butts in the seats and sells merchandise. The point-of-view of most teams is, “who cares what he did before when he can generate revenue now?”
On the one hand, I understand. NFL franchises are, first and foremost, businesses. Cold, calculating, capitalist machines. Their sole priority is making money by convincing fans to buy merchandise and tickets (and, more tangentially, watch on TV to justify huge broadcasting contracts).
I’m not saying I agree with it, but it’s the truth of the matter.
So, really, the onus of responsibility falls on the fans, because they’re the ones who make the league go. If the fans stop feeding at the trough, teams will be forced to re-evaluate their general direction in order to right the ship.
Sadly, fans seem to care more about performance on Sunday than a social situation with real life consequences, so I don’t see any public outcry coming in the future.
Baltimore fans continually showed support for (now ex) running back Rice despite incontrovertible evidence that he knocked his then-fiancee unconscious with a vicious punch in a crowded elevator. Washington Redskin fans regularly come up with ignorant and dumbfounding excuses for why their team should be able to keep its racist moniker.
All that goes to show that NFL fans, and sports fans as a whole at times, can be one of the most backwards demographics in the country — constantly cheering for human beings to succeed at a game despite the fact that they commit despicable acts in their daily lives.
I, for one, say enough. It’s easy to get mad at the league and the commissioner every time one of these players gets off easy, but we’re all implicated, too. Every time we watch a game, we’re supporting the league.
All the NFL wants to do is make money and you should have no illusions about that. If employing people like Washington, Peterson or Rice loses them money, I guarantee you they’ll be gone in a week.
Because, in the end, a lack of success doesn’t necessarily equal failure. The Redskins ranked third in the NFL in franchise value at $2.4 billion last year according to Forbes, despite fielding a mediocre product year in and year out. Teams would rather finish 4-12 and make a ton of money than go to the playoffs and earn less.
If employing a wife beater or using a racist mascot was bad for business, the teams would stop. But, those seemingly atrocious acts just don’t affect the bottom line.
That’s a long way of saying that we should finally put our money where our mouths are. It’s easy to speak out against a player like Washington or Peterson when they’re suspended or on another team and can’t help your club anyway.
But, when the suspension is over are you still talking trash on the player that could have a monster year and propel your team to the postseason? When they put the uniform back on, is your backbone still intact? If you’re the average NFL fan, I doubt it.
No matter which jerseys Washington and Peterson suit up in next year, I’m sure the majority of the fanbase will welcome them back with open arms.
Wayne Schutsky is a senior contributor to Modern Times Magazine.
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