Why is it so much easier for the NFL to talk about their balls than the real issues plaguing the league?
This entire week has been spent fretting over whether the New England Patriots cheated when they played with balls that weren’t properly inflated. Grown men have spent hours debating what, if any, punishment should be levied against the Patriots. If only the NFL had responded to issues of domestic and sexual violence in the same manner.
The Patriots came under scrutiny after last Sunday’s AFC Championship win over the Colts. According to the AP, A little over two hours before the game, each football team submits one to two dozen balls for use by their offense, which are inspected by officials under NFL rules. After that “the balls are then handled by the home-team personnel during the game.” The investigation began after anonymous league sources told ESPN that 11 of the Patriots’ 12 allotted footballs were not properly inflated.
The NFL acted quickly. According to an ESPN article, the NFL game operations manual provides for “discipline, including but not limited to, a fine of $25,000” if footballs are altered in any way after the balls leave the locker room. Current and former players alike are calling for swift justice. The NFL has conducted no less than 40 interviews. All this just days after the incident.
Yet, when a video of Ray Rice dragging his girlfriend (now his wife) out of an elevator after he had beaten her unconscious, it took the NFL a full four months to respond. The NFL’s response, however, was to issue a two game suspension. A paltry two game suspension for beating a woman he probably outweighs by 100 pounds! Later after the video became public and sparked outrage over the sheer violence of his attack, the NFL backed-pedaled. Rice was suspended for life, but after an appeal he was cleared to play just two months later. In contrast, a player for the Cleveland Browns received a one year suspension for violating the NFL’s drug policy and the suspension was upheld after the appeal.
There was little, if any, outrage from NFL players over Rice’s conduct. Even the league’s commissioner found a way to blame Rice’s girlfriend by saying that she admitted to hitting this large, hulk of a man with her tiny ineffectual fist. An ESPN sportscaster jumped into the debate about how women played a role in their own beatings. Smith entered into a long diatribe about how men shouldn’t beat women, during which he also decided to warn women who might become the victims of domestic violence to avoid actions that might provoke the men in their lives.
He continued with this rant: “But what I’ve tried to employ the female members of my family, some of who you all met and talked to and what have you, is that again, and this what, I’ve done this all my life, let’s make sure we don’t do anything to provoke wrong actions, because if I come, or somebody else come, whether it’s law enforcement officials, your brother or the fellas that you know, if we come after somebody has put their hands on you, it doesn’t negate the fact that they already put their hands on you. So let’s try to make sure that we can do our part in making sure that that doesn’t happen.”
But true to form the Men of the NFL would rather discuss balls. Maybe because their “balls” are easier for them to handle. Maybe they understand their “balls” better than women. One thing’s for sure, maybe if less time was spent talking about their “balls” they could work on the real problems surrounding the men of the NFL.