Skip to content
Link copied to clipboard

ESPN to save NFL's image with all-male domestic abuse discussion

UPDATE: ESPN has confirmed, via Deadspin, that no such panel will take place, for the love of all that is holy.

From earlier: Domestic abuse, a crime that victimizes 1.3 million women a year according to the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence, is not an issue that men at the NFL seem capable of addressing, discussing, or addressing their discussion. According to the NCADV, "In 70-80% of intimate partner homicides, no matter which partner was killed, the man physically abused the woman before the murder."

It's men committing it, men not punishing them for it, men not losing their jobs over mishandling it. The end result has been some of the NFL's worst public relations, ever. But ESPN, a sports network that will stop at nothing to free the NFL of this shame, is about to step in and make it all better with a bold plan: Send in more men.

Eleven men, to be exact, who will fill out a panel prior to the Chiefs playing the Patriots tonight on Monday Night Football. The panel will discuss, among other things, domestic abuse and the NFL.

Remember, 1.3 million women are victimized by domestic abuse every year, but none of them will be on the panel. Ray Lewis will be, though. As will Jon Gruden, Mike Tirico, Chris Berman, Cris Carter, Mike Ditka, Adam Schefter, Tom Jackson, Keyshawn Johnson, Stuart Scott and Steve Young. Esquire has a proper shaming here.

How have some of these guys reacted to Ray Rice and Adrian Peterson's domestic abuce scandals and Roger Goodell's gross mishandling of them?

"Look, the NFL did not create these problems. The people in the NFL created these problems. The players. It's not the commissioner. It's not the owners. These kids are given the opportunity to make a lot of money and to play football. Now, if they want to jeopardize that with stupid behavior and doing dumb things, then it's their fault. Why should the NFL take a black eye for what individuals do?"

--Mike Ditka

"The only thing I'm proud about is the team I played for, they did the right thing. Take them off the field... Because you know what? As a man, that's the only thing we really respect. We don't respect no women. We don't respect no kids. The only thing Roger [Goodell] and them can do, take them off the field because they respect that."

--Cris Carter

"If that (being physically punished) didn't happen to me along the way I wouldn't be here with you today. It taught me a lot of learning lessons."

--Keyshawn Johnson

"There is no comparison between me and Ray Rice. It's night and day."

--Ray Lewis

Carter's praising of the Vikings for heroically deactivating Peterson following his admission that he hit his child with a switch is a bit off, as the team had activated him to play that week. This was followed by intense public outcry and led to the Vikings then rescinding the activation a day and a half later. So yeah, they did the right thing, after enough people complained about them doing the very clearly wrong thing.

This is a lot of men who think a lot of things about these issues but they may not possess the eloquence needed to present their points. Although in somebody like Ditka's case, their points are wildly off base anyway. The best type of point we can hope for tonight is "willful ignorance." Why? Because, as Ben Collins writes in his Esquire piece:

"... ESPN has a $15.2 billion broadcasting agreement with the NFL. You will not hear these words because it would interfere with the amount of money both ESPN and the NFL can make."

Mostly, though, the issue is this: On a panel choosing to discuss domestic abuse on the national stage, before an NFL football game, ESPN has filled out the roster with their extremely male water-carrying talking heads. And again, Ray freaking Lewis, who is no doubt being counted on for NFL Punishment Analysis and to discuss his long, hard journey back from being implicated in a double homicide to the unveiling of his statue in front of M&T Stadium. Their choice to talk about the issue is likely to be nothing more than further damage control, rather than an enlightening and frank discussion.

It will be very difficult to indicate that ESPN cares, and the NFL cares, and that you should care, if ESPN can't even take the issue seriously enough to find at the very least a female majority panel to discuss an issue that touches primarily women.

But it's okay, because Roger Goodell went to a domestic abuse call center, where he was very open about his plans to not forget about this issue as fast as he can.

"[Call center CEO Katie] Ray-Jones said Goodell did not discuss any specific policies the NFL might put in place for domestic violence."