More Inconsistent Punishments By Goodell, The NFL


A little over two years ago, the NFL seemingly drew a line in the sand with how indiscretions by it’s players would be investigated and subsequently punished.  That “come to Jesus moment” arrived when then Baltimore Ravens running back Ray Rice was initially suspended two games for striking his then fiancee (now wife).  As you remember, the video of that night in an Atlantic City casino came out and the public outrage caused Rice to be indefinitely suspended, then released, and never to return to a football field again.

Since then the NFL has suspended Greg Hardy for a full season’s worth of games for his indiscretion (not on video), and domestic violence has become the biggest “no-no” in terms of public relations faux pas.

Even with other violations, NFL commissioner Roger Goodell has been heavy-handed with his punishment.  There’s no greater example than the entire “Deflategate” debacle which will cost Tom Brady the first four games of this season for what is spelled out in the code of conduct as an “equipment violation” which should be a $25,000 fine.

With the league so vehemently going after players for seemingly every little thing, it’s a massive head-scratcher why New York Giants kicker Josh Brown received just a one-game suspension for his role in a domestic violence complaint against his then wife.  Brown’s ex-wife alleges that he has been physically violent with her more than 20 times.

The NFL released this statement explaining their actions.

“In the course of the League’s investigation, our investigators became aware that his wife had filed a statement with the county court alleging previous altercations between the spouses. However, despite multiple attempts to speak with her about this incident and her previous statements, she declined to speak with us. We understand that there are many reasons that might have affected her decision not to speak with us, but we were limited in our ability to investigate these allegations.

“Over the course of the 10-month investigation, we also made numerous requests — as late as this spring — to local law enforcement officers for information on the case and previous allegations. They declined those requests for information.

“As a result of these factors, our investigators had insufficient information to corroborate prior allegations. In addition, no criminal charges were brought forward regarding the incident in question or prior allegations. The NFL therefore made a decision based on the evidentiary findings around this one incident as provided to us by the District Attorney.

“The NFL made a finding that Mr. Brown had violated the Personal Conduct Policy. We did so based on the evidence of this one incident as presented in the police report, Mr. Brown and his wife’s statements to police that evening, and his statements in interviews with the NFL.

“The NFL Personal Conduct policy allows for discipline to be imposed even when criminal charges are not presented. It further allows for us to consider both aggravating and mitigating factors regarding discipline for domestic violence.

“After reviewing the evidence in this one incident, we imposed a one-game suspension for violation of the personal conduct policy.

“Mr. Brown and the NFLPA appealed this discipline, but the decision was upheld by a hearing officer.”

Even without cooperation from law enforcement and Brown’s wife, the one-game suspension seems to be out of character with the way the league has handled these types of cases.  Normally Goodell will “shoot for the moon” with his suspensions and let the NFLPA and the player appeal it down.  Not only does the one-game suspension seem light in relation to the others, but the fact that the Giants haven’t done anything to discipline their kicker.

New York has been one of the franchises where guys with “red flags” are generally not welcome.  Brown is a good kicker, but he’s a kicker.  It’s somewhat understandable (although still repugnant) that Greg Hardy was signed to a contract by the Dallas Cowboys last season after his domestic abuse conviction.  He plays a premium position.  Although was 30 for 32 last season in field goals, he’s 37 years old and is easily replaceable.

It seems as if the league is attempting to “sweep this issue under the rug” and for what, a journeyman kicker?  As a man, the lowest thing you can do is be physically violent to a woman, child or animal.  It’s head scratching why not only the NFL, but the New York Giants as well would allow a player like Brown to continue collecting a paycheck, especially at one of the most meaningless positions on the field.

About Charlie Bernstein

Charlie Bernstein

Charlie Bernstein is the managing football editor for Football Insiders and has covered the NFL for over a decade.  Charlie has hosted drive time radio for NBC and ESPN affiliates in different markets around the country, along with being an NFL correspondent for ESPN Radio and WFAN.  He has been featured on the NFL Network as well as Sirius/XM NFL Radio and has been published on Fox Sports, Sports Illustrated, ESPN as well as numerous other publications.