Sunday, April 26, 2015

Will the NFL Live Up To Its Promises?

I'm a fervent football fan, and the NFL draft takes place this week.
That's where professional teams choose college players to join their teams.
Last fall, the NFL made the viewing public a promise, via a series of public service commercials. The NFL joined with, vowing "to say NO MORE to domestic violence and sexual assault."

The public service announcements were prompted by the behavior of players like Ray Rice, who was videotaped knocking out his fiance in an elevator, and Adrian Peterson, who was accused of child abuse after he whipped his child with a switch.
And now, as the draft begins, we wait to see if the NFL supports the No More program, along with these players and former players who stepped up to say there's no excuse for domestic violence or sexual assault. Treating family members or women with violence is not a normal part of growing up, something that drunk athletes should be allowed to do.
And we'll know pretty quickly into the draft whether the NFL stands by its principles because the number-one ranked draft pick is Jameis Winston, quarterback for Florida State University for two years and Heisman Trophy winner in the 2013 season.

Winston was accused of raping a drunk female FSU student in December 2012. The case wasn't vigorously investigated until November 2013 when the press found out about it.
The prosecutor determined not to go forward with charges, even though Winston's DNA was found when the woman underwent rape testing.

It just so happens that a Florida team, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, have the first-round draft pick this year, and the prediction is that they'll choose Winston.
But whether he's picked first or in a later round, the NFL will have turned its back on the faux public service announcements by drafting a man who already has a murky past with rape.
The NFL could change the announcements to "No More... unless he's a really good football player."

But Winston wasn't found guilty of rape, so the teams can't hold that against him, right?
Well, they can feign ignorance if they want. But the evidence is strong, whether or not the state of Florida was willing to prosecute.

 In an extensive New York Times article, Walt Bogdanich breaks down the timeline of the rape and how it was investigated by both the police and the university. The article, "A Star Player Accused, and a Flawed Rape Investigation" points out that the 19-year-old rape victim called a friend within hours of the rape. The friend called 911 to report it (Bogdanich).
This wasn't a woman who saw a football star rise to fame who hoped to get in on some fame or money. She didn't know the man who raped her in December 2012, and Winston wasn't the starting quarterback at that point.
Part of the article is chilling:
After partially blacking out, the woman said, she found herself in an apartment with a man on top of her, sexually assaulting her. She said she tried unsuccessfully to push him away, but he pinned down her arms. Meanwhile, according to her account, another man walked in and told her assailant to stop. He did not. Instead, she said, he carried her into the bathroom, locked the door and continued his assault. (Bogdanich)
Those same roommates admitted that they taped part of the sexual assault, but later erased it.

Pretty strong evidence,  huh? I've heard commentators on ESPN say things like, "We all make mistakes when we're young." Rape is outside those parameters of boys will be boys. It's not okay. Ever.
And drafting Jameis Winston means that the NFL was just giving lip service to their vows of No More.
Well, only this time, they may argue, cause he's a really good football player.

If you love football, like I do, then urge your team to skip drafting Winston and send a message that no means no, whether she's drunk, whether she's dressed provocatively, whether she  admits she had sex with her boyfriend earlier... You can't rape her and now you face the consequences.
No More.


Just Me said...

Chilling account for sure. I was horrified when that video tape of Ray Rice punching his fiancé in the face and then kicking and dragging her out of the elevator. He should have been taken to jail. The fact that the NFL could over look his actions until the public found out only served to confirm for me, the only thing the NFL cares about is money. I enjoy college football but I am no longer a fan of the professional game. They lost me when they did everything they could to keep a lid on the head injuries by way of lying, attacking and discrediting all the medical staff compiling all the cases. It's difficult for me to even watch a game without seeing all professional violence to their bodies.

The public service commercial is really good and I hope the public uses it to hold the NFL to all the 'No More' statements.

Good post.

Paulita said...

Just Me, Yes, I agree with you.
Too many times, businesses, sports, government put money above people. Only when we stand up will they stop.

Noreen said...

Is it just me, or do others feel that our society tends to turn their back on sexual violence in general? It is a very odd and disturbing phenomenon, though I think it is illustrative of how woman continue to be viewed as "less than" in the world to this day.

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