There is something wrong with this league.
Jovan Belcher, a starting linebacker for the Chiefs, murdered the mother of his child shortly before 8 a.m. Saturday. He hopped in his car, drove to the Kansas City Chiefs practice facility, thanked Romeo Crennel and Scott Pioli — and shot himself in the head in front of his coach and general manager around 8:10 a.m.
Within two hours, the NFL instructed the Carolina Panthers to travel to Kansas City as scheduled in preparation for Sunday’s noon kickoff. By 3 p.m., the Chiefs announced that Crennel and team captains had decided to play Sunday’s game as planned.
This is a horrific, nauseating crime. Why must the NFL go on as usual? Is the game so important? Or are women so trivial? Perhaps ‘carrying on’ is so much a feature of football psychology that it dictates to civility. Being tough guys, they’d like to tough it out. They’d like to go on as usual, and let’s not make a big deal of it.
Whatever it is, that’s the problem.
In 1999, Jim Brown was convicted of vandalizing his wife’s car. He also was charged with “making” terrorist threats to her, a charge later dropped.
The court gave Brown the option of doing community service and receiving counseling, rather than doing jail time. He refused, taking the six-month jail sentence, released after four months. While in jail, he went on a hunger strike for two weeks.
Brown is perhaps the greatest football player who ever lived. And some fans hold him in high regard for choosing jail instead of anger management classes. No one talks about what his wife had to endure. But Jim, he toughed it out.
At 12:10 am on June 13, 1994, Nicole Brown Simpson and Ronald Goldman were found murdered outside Brown’s Bundy Drive condo in the Brentwood area of Los Angeles. O.J. Simpson and Nicole Brown Simpson had divorced two years earlier. Evidence found and collected at the scene led police to suspect that O.J. Simpson was the murderer. Nicole had been stabbed multiple times in the head and neck with defense wounds on her hands. The wound through her neck was gaping, through which the larynx could be seen, and vertebra C3 was also incised.
O.J. is another of the NFL’s greatest players. He beat Nicole Brown until the police noticed and he couldn’t do it any more, so then he essentially decapitated her. And though he was all but caught literally red-handed, he got away with the crime because nobody could believe the Greatest Buffalo Bill would be capable of such butchery. Americans’ memories have a lot to be desired.
–[Lawrence Taylor's] latest run-in with the law was the most serious. Taylor was charged with statutory rape involving an incident with a 16-year-old call girl. He ended up pleading guilty to one count of patronizing a prostitute and one count of sexual misconduct.
–Lawrence Phillips may be the poster boy for anger control problems. He has been convicted several times of assaulting women. The most notable probably came into college when he broke into his ex’s dorm and then dragged her by the hair down three flights of stairs.
Philips is currently serving a 30-year sentence after he tried to run over a group of teens after they got into an argument during a pick-up football game.
–Jim Dunway’s ex-wife was found dead in a swimming pool. Autopsy reports indicated that she died from a fractured skull prior to be being placed in the pool.
Dunaway was charged with murder, but not indicted. He later was found guilty in a wrongful death suit filed by his children.
–Rae Carruth’s girlfriend, the woman carrying his baby, was shot four times in a drive-by shooting. She survived long enough to call 9-1-1.
She described to the dispatchers that Carruth pulled up in front of her and stopped his car so that she could not move. The assailants soon drove up next to her and shot her. Carruth received an 18-24 year sentence for his involvement in the crime.
–Tommy Kane is currently serving time after pleading guilty to second-degree murder. The charges stem from the murder of his wife.
The allegations were that Kane and his wife got into an argument after she said she wanted a divorce. They then say he grabbed her by the hair, dragged her into the kitchen, smashed her head against the floor and stabbed her in the neck.
And on Saturday, Jovan Belcher placed his name in the pantheon of the NFL’s biggest monsters. He prevented his languishing in a penitentiary for the rest of a wretched life by killing himself, so his death is hardly sad. It’s mostly strategic. And a bit romantic. Women, you know, make men crazy. Isn’t the whole thing tragic? No, spare me.
Why the NFL couldn’t see this for the recurring nightmare it is, I don’t know. Why they couldn’t use this as a ‘teachable moment,’ as the President might say, I wish I knew. Call off the game. Make everyone notice. Force the players to sit in their quiet locker rooms and come to terms with it. Jovan might have been a nice man as regards his teammates, but his definitive public act was as the incarnation of pure evil on Earth.
How many women has Ben Roethliberger sexually assaulted, incidentally? Groans, craning of necks, averted eyes. Scratching of heads. The league apparently thinks that this latest stain will wash away with time, and with more games. Always with more of the games. So nobody at the league will talk about how women, even the players wives, are badly treated. Chad Johnson head-butted his wife of four months and ended up in jail. Jerramy Stevens assaulted Olympic goaltender Hope Solo on a Friday night and then got bailed out in time to marry her on Saturday. This is not normal behavior.
As to addressing that, I’ll tell you what might make a difference right now. Now that the best opportunity to address the problem of the beating and stabbing and obliteration of women has passed like a well-salaried thief in the night.
The Coach who was forced to watch Belcher’s pathetic suicide could address the problem. After he manages to re-compose himself, if that were possible. Romeo Crenell could say: “As to Jovan, let me be clear. If you’re on my team and you hurt your girlfriend, if you beat or you kill your wife, I don’t want you to come see me. I don’t want anything to do with you. I won’t even look you in the eye, so don’t bother. The coaches don’t want anything to do with you, the Kansas City Chiefs don’t want anything to do with you, and the NFL doesn’t want anything to do with you. Turn yourself in to the police, accept responsibility for what you’ve done and serve your debt to society. By the way, professional football is over for you.”
But you and I know we won’t hear that. Not while the NFL only pretends to be shocked by what their players do to women.