The franchise began play in Chicago in 1898 before moving to St. Louis in 1960 and Arizona in 1988. Team owner Chris O’Brien purchased used and faded maroon jerseys from the University of Chicago in 1901 and dubbed the color of his squad’s new outfits “cardinal red.” A nickname was born. The team adopted the cardinal bird as part of its logo as early as 1947 and first featured a cardinal head on its helmets in 1960.
Shortly after insurance executive Rankin Smith brought professional football to Atlanta, a local radio station sponsored a contest to name the team. Thirteen hundred people combined to suggest more than 500 names, including Peaches, Vibrants, Lancers, Confederates, Firebirds, and Thrashers. While several fans submitted the nickname Falcons, schoolteacher Julia Elliott of nearby Griffin was declared the winner of the contest for the reason she provided. “The falcon is proud and dignified, with great courage and fight,” Elliott wrote. “It never drops its prey. It is deadly and has great sporting tradition.” Elliott won four season tickets for three years and a football autographed by the entire 1966 inaugural team.
Ravens, a reference to Edgar Allan Poe’s famous poem, beat out Americans and Marauders in a contest conducted by the Baltimore Sun. Poe died and is buried in Baltimore. Of the more than 33,000 voters in the Sun’s phone-in poll, more than 21,000 picked Ravens. “It gives us a strong nickname that is not common to teams at any level, and it gives us one that means something historically to this community,” said team owner Art Modell, who had attempted to buy the Colts nickname back from the franchise that left Baltimore for Indianapolis in 1984. The Marauders nickname referenced a B-26 built during World War II by the Glenn L. Martin Company, a predecessor to Lockheed Martin that was based in Baltimore. Other names considered included the Railers, Bulldogs, Mustangs, and Steamers.
The Bills nickname was suggested as part of a fan contest in 1947 to rename Buffalo’s All-America Football Conference team, which was originally known as the Bisons. The Bills nickname referenced frontiersman Buffalo Bill Cody and was selected over Bullets, Nickels, and Blue Devils. It helped that the team was owned by the president of Frontier Oil, James Breuil. Buffalo was without a team from 1950 to 1959, when owner Ralph Wilson acquired a franchise in the AFL. Wilson solicited potential nicknames from fans for his new franchise and ultimately chose Bills in homage to the city’s defunct AAFC team.
Panthers team president Mark Richardson, the son of team owner Jerry Richardson, chose the Panthers nickname because “it’s a name our family thought signifies what we thought a team should be—powerful, sleek and strong.” Richardson also chose the 1995 expansion team’s color scheme of black, blue, and silver, a choice that initially came under scrutiny from NFL Properties representatives. According to one newspaper report, the concern was raised at the 1993 NFL meetings that a team nicknamed the Panthers that featured black in its color scheme would appeal to street gangs and reflect poorly on the league.
In 1921, the Decatur Staleys, a charter member of the American Professional Football Association, moved to Chicago and kept their nickname, a nod to the team’s sponsor, the Staley Starch Company. When star player George Halas purchased the team the following year, he decided to change the nickname. Chicago played its home games at Wrigley Field, home of baseball’s Cubs, and Halas opted to stick with the ursine theme.
Team owner, general manager, and head coach Paul Brown nicknamed Cincinnati’s AFL expansion franchise the Bengals in 1968 in honor of the football team nicknamed the Bengals that played in the city from 1937-1942. According to Brown, the nickname “would provide a link with past professional football in Cincinnati.” Brown chose Bengals over the fans’ most popular suggestion, Buckeyes.
There’s some debate about whether Cleveland’s professional football franchise was named after its first coach and general manager, Paul Brown, or after boxer Joe Louis, who was nicknamed the “Brown Bomber.” Team owner Mickey McBride conducted a fan contest in 1945 and the most popular submission was Browns. According to one version of the story, Paul Brown vetoed the nickname and chose Panthers instead, but a local businessman informed the team that he owned the rights to the name Cleveland Panthers. Brown ultimately agreed to the use of his name and Browns stuck.
The Cowboys, who began play in the NFL in 1960, were originally nicknamed the Steers. The team’s general manager, Texas E. Schramm, decided that having a castrated bovine as a mascot might subject the team to ridicule, so he changed the name to Rangers. Fearing that people would confuse the football team with the local minor league baseball team nicknamed the Rangers, Schramm finally changed the nickname to Cowboys shortly before the season began.
Denver was a charter member of the AFL in 1960 and Broncos, which was submitted along with a 25-word essay by Ward M. Vining, was the winning entry among 162 fans who responded in a name-the-team contest. A Denver team by the same name played in the Midwest Baseball League in 1921.
Radio executive George A. Richards purchased and moved the Portsmouth Spartans to Detroit in 1934 and renamed the team the Lions. The nickname was likely derived from Detroit’s established baseball team, the Tigers, who won 101 games and the AL pennant that year. As the team explained it, “The lion is the monarch of the jungle, and we hope to be the monarch of the league.”
Green Bay Packers
Team founder Earl “Curly” Lambeau’s employer, the Indian Packing Company, sponsored Green Bay’s football team and provided equipment and access to the field. The Indian Packing Company became the Acme Packing Company and later folded, but the nickname stuck.
Houston’s 2002 expansion franchise became the sixth professional football team nicknamed the Texans. The Dallas Texans were an Arena Football League team from 1990 to 1993 and Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones revived the team in 2000. He was planning to keep the old nickname, but ultimately renamed the team the Desperados. Houston owner Bob McNair chose Texans over Apollos and Stallions.
The Baltimore Colts, a member of the All-America Football Conference from 1947-1950, were named in honor of the region’s history of horse breeding. The name remained when a new franchise began play in 1953 and after the team relocated to Indianapolis in 1984.
The Jaguars nickname was selected through a fan contest in 1991, 2 years before the city was officially awarded an expansion team and 4 years before the team would begin play. Other names considered included the Sharks and Stingrays. While Jaguars aren’t native to Jacksonville, the oldest living jaguar in North America was housed in the Jacksonville Zoo.
Kansas City Chiefs
The Chiefs began play in the AFL in 1960 as the Dallas Texans. When the team moved to Kansas City in 1963, owner Lamar Hunt changed the team’s name to the Chiefs after also considering Mules, Royals, and Stars. Hunt said the name was locally important because Native Americans had once lived in the area. Hunt may have also been swayed by Kansas City mayor H. Roe Bartle, whose nickname was The Chief. Bartle helped lure the team to Kansas City by promising Hunt that the city would meet certain attendance thresholds.
A name-the-team contest drew nearly 20,000 entries and resulted in the nickname for the Miami franchise that entered the AFL as an expansion team in 1966. More than 600 fans suggested Dolphins, but Marjorie Swanson was declared the winner after correctly predicting a tie in the 1965 college football game between Miami and Notre Dame as part of a follow-up contest. Swanson, who won a lifetime season pass to Dolphins games, told reporters she consulted a Magic 8-Ball before predicting the score of the game. Miami owner Joe Robbie was fond of the winning nickname because, as he put it, “The dolphin is one of the fastest and smartest creatures in the sea.”
According to the Vikings’ website, Bert Rose, Minnesota’s general manager when it joined the NFL in 1961, recommended the nickname to the team’s Board of Directors because “it represented both an aggressive person with the will to win and the Nordic tradition in the northern Midwest.” The expansion franchise also became the first pro sports team to feature its home state, rather than a city, in the team name.
New England Patriots
Seventy-four fans suggested Patriots in the name-the-team contest that was conducted by the management group of Boston’s original AFL franchise in 1960. “Pat Patriot,” the cartoon of a Minuteman preparing to snap a football drawn by the Boston Globe’s Phil Bissell, was chosen as the team’s logo soon after. While the first part of the team’s name changed from Boston to New England in 1971, Patriots remained.
New Orleans Saints
New Orleans was awarded an NFL franchise on All Saints’ Day, November 1, 1966. The nickname was a popular choice in a name-the-team contest sponsored by the New Orleans States-Item, which announced the news of the new franchise with the headline, “N.O. goes pro!” The nickname, chosen by team owner John Mecom, was a nod to the city’s jazz heritage and taken from the popular song, “When the Saints Go Marching In.”
New York Giants
New York owner Tim Mara borrowed the Giants nickname from John McGraw’s National League baseball team, a common practice by football teams during an era when baseball was the nation’s preeminent team sport.
New York Jets
Originally nicknamed the Titans, the team was renamed the Jets in 1963 after Sonny Werblin led an investment group that purchased the bankrupt franchise for $1 million.
According to a contemporary New York Times story, the franchise considered calling itself the Dodgers, but nixed the idea after Major League Baseball didn’t like it. Gothams also got some consideration, but the team didn’t like the idea of having it shortened to the Goths, because “you know they weren’t such nice people.” The last finalist to fall was the New York Borros, a pun on the city’s boroughs; the team worried that opposing fans would make the Borros-burros connection and derisively call the squad the jackasses.
Eventually the team became the Jets since it was going to play in Shea Stadium, which is close to LaGuardia Airport. According to the Pro Football Hall of Fame, the name was supposed to reflect the “modern approach of his team.”
Chet Soda, Oakland’s first general manager, sponsored a name-the-team contest in 1960. Helen A. Davis, an Oakland policewoman, submitted the winning entry, Señors, and was rewarded with a trip to the Bahamas. The nickname, an allusion to the old Spanish settlers of northern California, was ridiculed in the weeks that followed, and fans also claimed that the contest was fixed. Scotty Stirling, a sportswriter for the Oakland Tribune who would later become the team’s general manager, provided another reason to abandon the nickname. “That’s no good,” Stirling said. “We don’t have the accent mark for the n in our headline type.” Responding to the backlash, Soda and the team’s other investors decided to change the team’s nickname to Raiders, which was a finalist in the contest along with Lakers.
In 1933, Bert Bell and Lud Wray purchased the bankrupt Frankford Yellowjackets. The new owners renamed the team the Eagles in honor of the symbol of the National Recovery Act, which was part of President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s New Deal.
Pittsburgh’s football team shared the same nickname as the city’s baseball team, the Pirates, from 1933 to 1940. Before the 1940 season, owner Art Rooney held a rename-the-team contest. A change couldn’t hurt, as Pittsburgh had failed to post a winning season in its first 7 years. Joe Santoni, who worked in a mill for Pittsburgh Steel, was one of several fans who suggested Steelers. Santoni received a pair of season tickets, which he would renew every year until his death in 2003.
San Diego Chargers
Team owner Barron Hilton sponsored a name-the-team contest and promised a trip to Mexico City to the winner in 1960. Gerald Courtney submitted “Chargers” and Hilton reportedly liked the name so much that he didn’t open another letter.
There are varying accounts as to why Hilton chose Chargers for his franchise, which spent one year in Los Angeles before relocating to San Diego. According to one story, Hilton liked the name, in part, for its affiliation with his new Carte Blanche credit card. The owner also told reporters that he was fond of the “Charge!” bugle cry played at the Los Angeles Coliseum.
San Francisco 49ers
The 49ers, who began play in the All-America Football Conference in 1946, were named after the settlers who ventured to the San Francisco area during the gold rush of 1849.
St. Louis Rams
The Rams, who originated in Cleveland in 1936 and spent 1946 through 1994 in the Los Angeles area, trace their nickname to the college ranks. Principal owner Homer Marshman and general manager Damon “Buzz” Wetzel chose the nickname because Wetzel’s favorite football team had always been the Fordham Rams. Fordham—Vince Lombardi’s alma mater—was a powerhouse at the time.
There were 1,700 unique names among the more than 20,000 submitted in a name-the-team contest in 1975, including Skippers, Pioneers, Lumberjacks, and Seagulls. About 150 people suggested Seahawks. A Seattle minor league hockey team and Miami’s franchise in the All-America Football Conference both used the nickname in the 1950s. “Our new name suggests aggressiveness, reflects our soaring Northwest heritage, and belongs to no other major league team,” Seattle general manager John Thompson said. The Seahawks’ helmet design is a stylized head of an osprey, a fish-eating hawk of the Northwest.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers
A panel of local sportswriters and representatives from the NFL expansion team, including owner Hugh F. Culverhouse, chose Buccaneers from an original list of more than 400 names in 1975. The nickname, which was a popular choice among fans in a name-the-team contest, was a nod to the pirates who raided Florida’s coasts during the 17th century.
After relocating from Houston to Tennessee in 1995, the team played two seasons as the Oilers before owner Bud Adams held a statewide contest to rename the team. Titans was chosen over nicknames such as Tornadoes, Copperheads, South Stars, and Wranglers. “We wanted a new nickname to reflect strength, leadership and other heroic qualities,” Adams told reporters.
One year after he acquired an NFL franchise in Boston, George Preston Marshall changed the team’s nickname from Braves to Redskins. According to most accounts, the nickname was meant to honor head coach and Native American William Henry “Lone Star” Dietz, though some question whether Dietz was a Native American. The Redskins kept their controversial nickname when they relocated to Washington, DC, in 1937.
*Article originally posted on Mental Floss.
The 60-minute documentary tells the little-known story of 4 outstanding and brave African American men who broke the color barrier in pro football in 1946, one year before Jackie Robinson and Branch Rickey were credited with integrating Major League Baseball.
Premium entertainment network EPIX has announced that “Forgotten Four: The Integration of Pro Football,” an EPIX Original Documentary, will make its World Premiere on Tuesday, September 23, 2014, at 8PM ET.
The 60-minute documentary, narrated by Jeffrey Wright and produced by Ross Greenburg, tells the little-known story of 4 outstanding and brave African American men – Kenny Washington, Woody Strode, Marion Motley and Bill Willis – who broke the color barrier in pro football in 1946, one year before Jackie Robinson and Branch Rickey were credited with integrating Major League Baseball.
EPIX has joined forces with the National Football League to celebrate the achievements of the Forgotten Four with local screenings in NFL team markets across the country, followed by panel discussions on the current state of race relations and athletics. The first team to kick off the commemoration was the Denver Broncos on August 2, 2014. Other NFL teams confirmed to host events, as of now, include the Atlanta Falcons, Buffalo Bills, Carolina Panthers, Chicago Bears, Cincinnati Bengals, Dallas Cowboys, Green Bay Packers, Indianapolis Colts, Jacksonville Jaguars, Kansas City Chiefs, Miami Dolphins, New Orleans Saints, San Francisco 49ers, St. Louis Rams, Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Tennessee Titans and Washington Redskins. More teams will be announced over the coming weeks.
The hardships and triumphs of the Forgotten Four are told through the recollections of their families and those who have researched these pioneers. Those interviewed for this Epix Original Documentary include Forgotten Four family members Tony Motley (Marion Motley’s grandson), Mike Brown (Paul Brown’s son), Clem and William Willis, Jr. (Bill Willis’ sons), Karin L. Cohen (Kenny Washington’s daughter) and Kalai Strode (Woody Strode’s son).
An all-star lineup of football legends also shares their insights, including: Don Shula (Hall of Fame coach who also played for the Cleveland Browns), Bob Gain, Sherman Howard, Jim Hardy (Los Angeles Rams) and George Taliaferro (Indiana University). Participating writers/historians include Joe Horrigan (Pro Football Hall of Fame), Lonnie G. Bunch (National Museum of African American History and Culture), Khalil Gibran Muhammad (Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture), Jarrett Bell (USA Today) and Brad Pye, Jr. (Los Angeles Sentinel).
“EPIX is pleased to work with the National Football League to bring the story of these trailblazers in civil rights and professional sports to a new national audience,” said Mark Greenberg, President and CEO, EPIX. “We believe Forgotten Four presents an insightful and informative account of the profound impact these courageous men had on the sport.”
“Forgotten Four: The Integration of Pro Football,” was produced by Ross Greenburg and directed by Johnson McKelvy. Ross Greenburg and Wesley E. Smith are executive producers. Ross Bernard is executive producer and Jill Burkhart is producer for EPIX. Donovan McNabb, former star NFL quarterback with the Philadelphia Eagles and Washington Redskins, served as creative consultant for the film.
Join the conversation about #ForgottenFour on Twitter http://Twitter.com/EpixHD, on Facebook http://Facebook.com/EPIX and on the EPIX webpage http://www.epix.com/forgotten-four-the-integration-of-pro-football/.
In college, I once found myself on the D.C. metro with one of my favorite professors. As we were riding, a young white child began to climb on the seats and hang from the bars of the train. His mother never moved to restrain him. But I began to see the very familiar, strained looks of disdain and dismay on the countenances of the mostly black passengers. They exchanged eye contact with one another, dispositions tight with annoyance at the audacity of this white child, but mostly at the refusal of his mother to act as a disciplinarian. I, too, was appalled. I thought, if that were my child, I would snatch him down and tell him to sit his little behind in a seat immediately. My professor took the opportunity to teach: “Do you see how this child feels the prerogative to roam freely in this train, unhindered by rules or regulations or propriety?”
“Yes,” I nodded. “What kinds of messages do you think are being communicated to him right now about how he should move through the world?”
And I began to understand, quite starkly, in that moment, the freedom that white children have to see the world as a place that they can explore, a place in which they can sit, or stand, or climb at will. The world, they are learning, is theirs for the taking.
Then I thought about what it means to parent a black child, any black child, in similar circumstances. I think of the swiftness with which a black mother would have ushered her child into a seat, with firm looks and not a little a scolding, the implied if unspoken threat of either a grounding or a whupping, if her request were not immediately met with compliance. So much is wrapped up in that moment: a desire to demonstrate that one’s black child is well-behaved, non-threatening, well-trained. Disciplined. I think of the centuries of imminent fear that have shaped and contoured African-American working-class cultures of discipline, the sternness of our mothers’ and grandmothers’ looks, the firmness of the belts and switches applied to our hind parts, the rhythmic, loving, painful scoldings accompanying spankings as if the messages could be imprinted on our bodies with a sure and swift and repetitive show of force.
I think with fond memories of the big tree that grew in my grandmother’s yard, with branches that were the perfect size for switches. I hear her booming and shrill voice now, commanding, “Go and pick a switch.” I laugh when I remember that she cut that tree down once we were all past the age of switches.
And then I turn to Adrian Peterson. Not even a year ago, Peterson’s 2-year-old son, whom he did not know, was murdered by his son’s mother’s boyfriend. More recently, Adrian Peterson has been charged with negligent injury to a child, for hitting his 4-year-old son with a switch, in a disciplinary episode that left the child with bruises and open cuts on his hands, legs, buttocks and scrotum.
In the text messages that Peterson sent to the boy’s mother, he acknowledged having gone too far, letting her know that he accidentally “got him in the nuts,” and that because the child didn’t cry, he didn’t realize the switch was hurting him. It would be easy to demonize Peterson as an abuser, but the forthrightness with which he talked about using belts and switches but not extension cords, because he “remembers how it feels to get whooped with an extension cord,” as part of his modes of discipline suggests he is merely riffing on scripts handed down to him as an African-American man.
These cultures of violent punishment are ingrained within African-American communities. In fact, they are often considered marks of good parenting. In my childhood, parents who “thought their children were too good to be spanked” were looked upon with derision. I have heard everyone from preachers to comedians lament the passing of days when a child would do something wrong at a neighbor’s house, get spanked by that neighbor, and then come home and get spanked again for daring to misbehave at someone else’s house. For many that is a vision of a strong black community, in which children are so loved and cared for that everyone has a stake in making sure that those children turn out well, and “know how to act.” In other words, it is clear to me that Peterson views his willingness to engage in strong discipline as a mark of being a good father.
Perhaps it is time to acknowledge that the loving intent and sincerity behind these violent modes of discipline makes them no less violent, no more acceptable. Some of our ideas about discipline are unproductive, dangerous and wrong. It’s time we had courage to say that.
I am not interested in haggling any more with black people about the difference between spankings and abuse, because when emotions and stakes are both as high as they are, lines are far too easily crossed.
Stakes are high because parenting black children in a culture of white supremacy forces us to place too high a price on making sure our children are disciplined and well-behaved. I know that I personally place an extremely high value on children being respectful, well-behaved and submissive to authority figures. I’m fairly sure this isn’t a good thing.
If black folks are honest, many of us will admit to both internally and vocally balking at the very “free” ways that we have heard white children address their parents in public. Many a black person has seen a white child yelling at his or her parents, while the parents calmly respond, gently scold, ignore, attempt to soothe, or failing all else, look embarrassed.
I can never recount one time, ever seeing a black child yell at his or her mother in public. Never. It is almost unfathomable.
As a kid in the 1980s and 1990s I loved family sitcoms. “Full House,” “Who’s the Boss?,” “Growing Pains.” You name it. But even before my own racial consciousness was fully formed, I remember knowing that I was watching white families very different from my own, in part, because of how children interacted with their families. Invariably on an episode, a child would get mad, yell at a parent, and then run up the stairs (white people’s sitcom houses always had stairs) and slam the door.
What I know for sure is that yelling, running away or slamming anything in the house that my single mama worked hard to pay for would be grounds for some serious disciplinary reprisal. Even now, when I think about what kind of behavior I would permit as a parent, I am clear that slamming doors in my home is unacceptable.
Still, I also know that my anger was not an emotion that found a free and healthy range of expression in my household. My mother is my own personal hero, but just as she did many things differently than her own mother did when it came to raising daughters, I know I will think very intentionally about making space for my children to experience a full range of emotions – anger included — in the safety of home. They can’t slam the door, but they can close it.
As for Adrian Peterson, he will have to deal with the legal consequences of his actions. It has long been time for us to forgo violence as a disciplinary strategy. But as Charles Barkley notes, if we lock up Adrian Peterson, we could lock up every other black parent in the South for the same behavior. Instead, I hope Peterson is a cautionary tale, not about the state intruding on our “right” to discipline our children but rather a wakeup call about how much (fear of) state violence informs the way we discipline our children.
If the murder of Michael Brown has taught us nothing else, we should know by now that the U.S. nation-state often uses deadly violence both here and abroad as a primary mode of disciplining people with black and brown bodies. Darren Wilson used deadly force against Michael Brown as a mode of discipline (and a terroristic act) for Brown’s failure to comply with the request to walk on the sidewalk.
The loving intent and sincerity of our disciplinary strategies does not preclude them from being imbricated in these larger state-based ideas about how to compel black bodies to act in ways that are seen as non-menacing, unobtrusive and basically invisible. Many hope that by enacting these micro-level violences on black bodies, we can protect our children from macro and deadly forms of violence later.
Perhaps it is audacious of me to encourage black parents to focus less on producing well-behaved children in a world that clearly hates them. Black boys and girls are suspended or expelled from school more than all other demographics of boys and girls, often for similar behaviors, simply because their engagement in those behaviors is perceived as more aggressive.
White children in general are raised to be Columbus, to “discover” the world anew and then to manipulate and order the universe to their own liking. If we take away the colonizing impulse in living this way, I think it would be amazing to have the luxury of raising black children who also view the world as a space of their own making, a space to be explored, a space to build anew. A space where occasionally, simply because you live there, you can opt to walk in the middle of the street instead of being confined to the sidewalk, much as you might sling your leg across the arm of a chair in your own home, because it is home.
But for so many black children, these kinds of frivolous choices will get you killed or locked up. For black children, finding disciplinary methods that instill a healthy sense of fear in a world that is exceptionally violent toward them is a hard balance to find.
The thing is, though: Beating, whupping or spanking your children will not protect them from state violence. It won’t keep them out of prison. Ruling homes and children with an iron fist will not restore the dignity and respect that the outside world fails to confer on adult black people.
What these actions might do is curtail creativity, inculcate a narrative about “acceptable” forms of violence enacted against black bodies, and breed fear and resentment between parents and children that far outlasts childhood.
Violence in any form is not love. Let us make sure first to learn that lesson. And then if we do nothing else, let us teach it to our children.
*Article originally published on Salon.
Once again the NFL has stuck its nose in its employees business. Adrian Peterson is the next victim – first he’s “deactivated”, and now he’s not. Ray Rice was barely in trouble, and now he’s not working at all. NFL, what gives?!
I’m sure you’ve already heard the news about Ray Rice & his appeal with the NFL Commission. Well, the Minnesota Vikings just reinstated Adrian Peterson after he was charged with a felony in Texas for using a wooden switch to spank his son. Peterson, who said he was using a form of discipline his father used on him as a boy, was forced to sit out over the weekend but is now able to play again. What’s with the flip-flop? Why is Rice out but Peterson is in? Why is what either of them do outside of work grounds for suspension, let alone dismissal? More importantly, why is the NFL involved in people’s personal lives?!
The last time I checked the NFL stood for National Football League not National Family League. In other words, the NFL needs to stick to moderating what happens on the field not what happens off the field. They need to stay out of people’s business and out of their homes. For example, if I drink a lot outside of work & get into an altercation (especially if the other person involved chooses not to press charges, as was the case with Ray Rice’s then-fiancee) that has absolutely NOTHING to do with my work-life and my job should remain intact. Now, if this altercation causes me to get arrested, miss several days of work, etc.., then it’s perfectly understandable that I lose my job. My time off of work & the bad press from my arrest are all detrimental to my career and can potentially tarnish my company’s name so it would only make sense that they let me go.
But where does it end? If all companies interfered with their employee’s personal comings & goings, then there would be a whole lot of people out of work. According to the Nat’l Coalition Against Domestic Violence approximately 42.4 million women in the United States have experienced rape, physical violence, and/or stalking. One in three women have experienced physical violence by being slapped, pushed, or shoved by their partner. All in all, intimate partner violence accounts for 15% of all violent crime. So basically, if every person that committed an active of domestic abuse was arrested, NEARLY 1/3 OF THE ENTIRE OF THE ENTIRE MALE POPULATION WOULD BE IN JAIL.
So what do I think should happen? Well, I certainly don’t think a man should get off scott-free. I think that the first offense should be an automatic multi-game suspension. The second offense should be a multi-game suspension, mandatory counseling & a hefty fine. After that? Well, after that any NFL player involved with domestic abuse should be suspended (pending further legal action). Keep in mind, that some women do lie about being violated which can cause an unnecessary uproar. I’m not saying that every beatdown requires a video (like Mr. Rice’s) but there should be a police report, witnesses, etc. Also there are many many women who stay in abusive relationships so when you release a man from his job & take away his livelihood, it’s affecting his family in an even greater way.
As far as I’m concerned unless someone’s personal business interferes with their performance on the field, the NFL needs to just butt out.
The NFL’s history of punishing players in domestic violence cases is as complicated as the legal cases themselves.
Sometimes players were suspended for a game or two. Sometimes, charges were reduced, which also reduced the severity of the NFL punishment. Sometimes, charges were dropped and players’ names were cleared.
Domestic violence now seems to be the football league’s No. 1 off-field issue.
Last month, the NFL announced a new policy against it. Then, this week, running back Ray Rice was released by the Baltimore Ravens and suspended indefinitely by the National Football League on the same day a video showed him knocking out his future wife with a punch earlier this year.
But the league hasn’t always been so assertive about the matter, one expert said. Domestic violence accounts for 85 of the 713 arrests of NFL players since 2000 in a database compiled by USA Today.
At a domestic violence summit in Florida about 15 years ago, “the NFL actually sent a representative who argued, ‘Are you kidding me? They’re giving up two out of 16 paychecks for this issue. Isn’t that a significant enough penalty?’ And back then, they would take that (to the public). Today, it’s a different story,” said Don Yaeger, co-author of the 1998 book, “Pros and Cons: The Criminals Who Play in the NFL.”
Here’s how the NFL is handling or has handled punishment in some other cases:
Ray McDonald (San Francisco 49ers)
Three days after Commissioner Roger Goodell created a new NFL policy against domestic violence on August 28, San Francisco 49ers defensive end Ray McDonald was arrested on an accusation of felony domestic violence.
The new policy imposes a six-game unpaid ban for first-time offenders and up to a lifetime ban for second-time offenders.
No charges have been filed in the incident involving McDonald, and the case was still being investigated Tuesday, said spokesman Sean Webby of the Santa Clara County, California, District Attorney’s Office.
McDonald was arrested by San Jose police at 2:45 a.m. at his house, where a party was being held for his approaching 30th birthday. McDonald allegedly became involved in an altercation with his fiancee, who was 10 weeks’ pregnant, a police source told the Sacramento Bee newspaper. Several 49ers players attended the party, CNN affiliate KTVU said.
The fiancee showed police minor bruises on her neck and arms, the newspaper said.
After McDonald posted bail, he stated he couldn’t say much about the case.
“The truth will come out,” he told KTVU. “Everybody knows what kind of person I am … a good-hearted person.”
On Tuesday, San Francisco 49ers CEO Jed York said the team was awaiting the outcome of the criminal case against McDonald before determining whether to punish him.
“I think it’s very important that we do let due process take its course,” York told KNBR-AM. “I think it’s very important that we don’t judge somebody before, whether charges are filed or whether anything else happens. We want to make sure that everybody is afforded the right that I think Americans are afforded.”
Greg Hardy (Carolina Panthers)
Defensive end Greg Hardy was convicted in a bench trial this summer of assaulting his former girlfriend and threatening to kill her, both misdemeanors.
Hardy is appealing, and the Carolina Panthers team said last month it wouldn’t discipline him until his appeals are completed, ESPN reported.
The former girlfriend accused Hardy of throwing her on a pile of guns and said he “bragged that all of those assault rifles were loaded,” her motion for a protection order said earlier this year, according to The Charlotte Observer newspaper, which posted a copy of her request online.
The woman said Hardy picked her up, threw her into the bathroom, dragged her into the bedroom, choked her, picked her up again and “threw me onto a couch covered in assault rifles and/or shotguns,” her protection order request said, according to the Observer.
Hardy threatened to shoot her if she went to the media or reported the assault, the court papers said, according to the Observer.
However, the NFL website cites an Associated Press account about 911 tapes revealing a different version of events.
“Hardy can be heard on a call saying: ‘My assistant is trying to restrain her, and she’s trying to break free and hit me with her heel. I’m literally running around the table right now.’ Hardy also alleges that the accuser could be on drugs,” NFL.com reported.
Some sports analysts are urging Goodell to punish Hardy: “With Hardy, as with Rice, Goodell needs to make a statement that the league has a zero-tolerance policy when it comes to how men in his league treat women,” ESPN commentator Ashley Fox wrote.
When asked about the criminal case against him in July, Hardy said he disliked how it is a distraction.
“I hate that I have distracted my team,” Hardy said, according to ESPN. “Other than that I can’t answer that question.”
A.J. Jefferson (Minnesota Vikings)
In November 2013, Minnesota Vikings cornerback A.J. Jefferson was arrested on a felony count of domestic assault by strangulation, CNN affiliate KARE reported.
His 23-year-old girlfriend claimed to have been in an early morning domestic dispute with Jefferson, who yelled and grabbed her neck, CNN affiliate WCCO reported.
On the day of his arrest, Jefferson was cut by the Minnesota Vikings, the NFL reported. Also, after the arrest, the NFL suspended Jefferson for four games, but Goodell lifted the suspension, the league said. The NFL website didn’t say why.
Jefferson finished last season with the Cleveland Browns before being placed on the injured reserve list because of an ankle problem, according to the National Football Post.
In March, Jefferson pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor count of domestic assault in the 2013 case, WCCO reported. He was sentenced to 90 days in jail, which was suspended to three days times served, The Seattle Times reported. In May, Jefferson was signed as a free agent by the Seattle Seahawks, which won the Super Bowl last season.
Robert Reynolds (Tennessee Titans)
A fifth-round draft pick in 2004 by the Tennessee Titans, linebacker Robert Reynolds made the team and played in all but three of its regular season games over his first two seasons.
But 2006 was a different story. In October of that year, Ohio authorities issued a warrant for Reynolds’ arrest on domestic violence and assault charges relating to his now ex-wife, according to The Tennessean newspaper.
After the charges were filed, then-Titans coach Jeff Fisher asked Reynolds to leave the team facility and decided he wouldn’t play that weekend — at least.
The Associated Press reported that Reynolds pleaded guilty later that month to criminal damaging (for smashing a cell phone and punching a hole in a wall) and disorderly conduct after lashing out during a visit to the home of his toddler son and ex-wife, who told police she didn’t want to press charges.
The former Ohio State player has not played an NFL game since, although his court case was not cited as the reason. The Titans waived Reynolds in July 2007 after previously placing him on injured reserve, and no other team picked him up. The Columbus Dispatch reported in 2008 that Reynolds had been suspended for one year for violating the league’s substance abuse policy, with his agent adding then that Reynolds would likely retire.
Dez Bryant (Dallas Cowboys)
In July 2012, wide receiver Dez Bryant of the Dallas Cowboys was arrested on a misdemeanor domestic violence charge in DeSoto, Texas, CNN affiliate KDFW reported.
Bryant’s mother called DeSoto police, claiming she got into an argument with her son and that he had assaulted her. Bryant later turned himself in and was charged with Class A misdemeanor domestic violence.
The charge was dismissed in November 2012 on the condition that Bryant undergo anger counseling and that he not be charged with a crime for the next year, ESPN said.
Bryant denied any domestic violence.
In an interview with Sports Illustrated, Bryant said he would be “a crazy man” to put his hands on his mother, other than to defend himself, and that after she grabbed his arms, he used his hands to remove hers. The magazine, however, cited the police report, which said Bryant grabbed his mother by her T-shirt and hair, bruised her arms and “hit her across her face with his ball cap.”
The NFL didn’t suspend Bryant. It imposed a strict set of conduct guidelines on him, which included a curfew, counseling twice a week and no alcohol, ESPN reported.
In March 2013, Bryant made a surprise appearance at Dallas Mayor Mike Rawlings’ “Men Against Abuse” rally. “I am done with domestic abuse,” he said at the public gathering.
Rod Smith (Denver Broncos)
In 2000, Denver Broncos wide receiver Rod Smith was accused of beating his former live-in girlfriend by throwing her around, banging her head on the floor and choking her during an argument, the Denver Post reported. The girlfriend is also the mother of his two children.
Smith pleaded guilty to a reduced charge of verbal harassment just days before he was to stand trial on third-degree assault and harassment charges, the newspaper reported. A judge sentenced Smith to two years of probation and ordered him to undergo 36 weeks of domestic violence counseling and pay $1,000 in court costs.
The NFL didn’t suspend Smith but did impose a $25,000 conditional fine against him, which he wouldn’t have to pay if he adhered to his probation, the newspaper said.
At the time, Smith denied hitting his former girlfriend, and even before the NFL imposed the conditional fine, he said the league wouldn’t suspend him.
“It’d be different if I did what they originally said I did,” he told the Denver Post, referring to the original charge of domestic violence. “But all those charges were dropped. So I don’t see how they can even take that into account when she said it didn’t happen, under oath, and we have several documents stating that.”
*Original article published on CNN.
Every media channel this week has been filled with footage of the Ray Rice “scandal”. In response, domestic abuse survivors have been speaking out on Twitter using the hashtag #WhyIStayed & #WhyILeft to express why they found themselves staying in abusive relationships and how they found the strength to leave them.
In light of all that’s going on, I thought it was about time to reignite the discussion around why some men abuse women in the first place. Here are some of the most commonly alleged reasons why men abuse women:
- It’s all they know – Statistics indicate that children who grow up in homes where violence is present are 100 times more likely to be abusers themselves*. Children exposed to family violence are more likely to develop social, emotional, psychological and or behavioral problems than those who are not. The trauma they experience can show up in emotional, behavioral, social and physical disturbances that effect their development and can continue into adulthood. Simply said, “Monkey see, monkey do.”
- Ultimate Control – Who doesn’t enjoy having power? For some men, holding the power of life & death in their hands is the greatest sign of masculinity. It makes them feel superior. Dealing with so many variables in life that are beyond our control, some men may feel comfort in knowing that what happens within their own home is solely within their control.
- Insecurity –Men who are jealous of outside relationships tend to have low self-esteem. They are extremely insecure and will do whatever it takes to isolate their victim from those that truly love & care for them.
- Confusion – Sometimes when a woman stays in a domestically violent situation, it can send the signal that she’s “okay” with this behavior (even if she’s really not).
- It’s the way they express their anger – Unfortunately not all men are well equipped to deal with their anger or frustrations. Most of us may argue, yell or scream to make our point, but some men take it to a whole different level. Not everyone has the same filter causing them to stop before inflicting harm or danger on other people
- Addiction – For some men, hitting a woman can produce the same “high” that drugs, gambling or alcohol produces. Dopamine can involve loss of control, a negative change in behavior, an obsession or preoccupation without fear of consequences. In all of these cases there can be an increasing tolerance for the behavior. Both tend to get worse over time.
There are many manifestations of domestic abuse. Here are five ways** that a man can abuse a woman:
- Physical – Inflicting or attempting to inflict physical injury whether it on the face, body, hair-pulling, etc.
- Sexual – Coercing or attempting to coerce any sexual contact without consent. Intimacy should always be mutual.
- Psychological – Isolating or attempting to isolate victims from friends, family, school, and/or work. This also includes verbal assaulting someone.
- Emotional – Undermining or attempting to undermine victim sense of worth. Putting someone down for the purposes of making
- Economic – Making or attempting to make the victim financially dependent on you & you only. When you take away a person’s resources, they are less likely to leave an abusive situation.
There’s no excuse WHATSOEVER for abuse. Whether it’s a man hitting a woman or a woman hitting a man, abuse has no place in any relationship. If you know someone (or even if it’s you), don’t be afraid or too embarrassed to get help. Call the National DV Hotline at 1-800-799- (SAFE) 7233.
If you have any insight into why men abuse their girlfriends/wives please share in the comments below. Let’s continue to make this a national conversation so that abuse is no longer tolerated.
*Statistics from LoveOurChildrenUSA.org
**Information taken from Woodbridge