Blame Game: The NFL Tries to Tackle Domestic Violence, But Does the Judicial System Need More Blame?

  • Graphic Madeleine Gendreau

Since the running back pleaded no contest to a misdemeanour assault charge, he now has to pay a $4000 fine, will be placed on probation, and will have to perform 80 hours of community service.

The NFL, faced with the latest story in a long line of domestic abuse cases that have plagued the game of football this year, is now left with the decision to either reinstate Peterson or to pursue further disciplinary actions. They will likely garner criticism from the media and fans, regardless of whatever decision they choose.

A major question, that NFL fans, sports fans, and perhaps the general public, should ask is, who should they really be mad at?

Does the NFL deserve the brunt of the blame because they do not have an active domestic violence policy, or should the anger and outrage be directed more towards the judicial system, which previously saw several NFL players get a pass for domestic violence abuse cases?

On May 21st, 2014, former Baltimore Raven running back Ray Rice was accepted into a pretrial intervention program, following the infamous assault of his wife, Janay Palmer, in February.

The New Jersey prosecutors essentially allowed Rice to go into the program, instead of taking the trial to court. If Rice is able to complete the program for 12 months and remain out of trouble, the charges will not show up on his record. The pretrial intervention program has been offered to less than one percent of domestic assault cases from 2010-2013, as first reported by Outside the Lines.

I remember hearing a lot of criticism towards the NFL for their two game suspension of Ray Rice and mishandling of his situation, but not a lot for the New Jersey Judiciary department for granting this generous offer to Rice.

Peterson and Rice were not the sole cases of domestic violence this summer. San Francisco 49ers defensive end Ray McDonald was also accused of domestic violence charges on August 31st, 2014.

He was accused of beating his then pregnant wife, but prosecutors said that they could not prove that an actual crime occurred, even though investigators said his fiancée had visible injuries.

49ers teammates quarterback Colin Kaepernick, receiver Quinton Patton, and Seattle Seahawks receiver Ricardo Lockette were also arrested in June. All three were initially involved in a sexual assault case against a woman in a downtown Miami hotel. The charges were dropped do to a lack of evidence.

Even college sports stars have been given a free pass by the judicial system. Florida State University quarterback Jameis Winston allegedly assaulted a woman on December 7th, 2012, yet avoided prosecution because state attorney William Meggs said that there wasn’t enough evidence to pursue with charges.

However, there are reports from various media outlets, including FOX Sports, that FSU officials and Tallahassee police not only hid, but also tried to hinder the criminal investigation that was taking place. This involved keeping valuable and relevant information away from William Meggs.

There is also evidence that Winston’s DNA was matched with the woman’s underwear that night, although Winston states that it was consensual.

Is it solely the NFL, or the collegiate system’s job to punish players that are accused of these crimes? This is by no way meant to give the NFL a pass for not having a proper domestic violence or sexual assault policy, but rather to gear the blame more on the judicial process.

While in the cases of McDonald, Kaepernick, and Winston, it is difficult to know whether they actually committed the crimes or not, but with Rice and Peterson however, it is pretty clear that they did.

I don’t have a perfect answer but it seems important to ponder if our anger and outrage is not temporarily being misplaced at the NFL while the judicial process hasn’t necessarily done its duty.

Since the publishing of the article on Tuesday, Nov. 18, NFL running back Adrian Peterson has since been suspended by the National Football League for the rest of the 2014-15 season.

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