Evanson Column: Honestly, what in the world is the NFL doing?
I know it's become hip to pick on the NFL. Some might even call it low-hanging fruit.
However, in the wake of the suspension of Seattle Seahawks defensive lineman Jarran Reed, I'm left simply to wonder, what in the wide, wide world of sports are they doing in regards to domestic violence and the punishment as its result?
Reed was involved in an incident in which the police were called about the alleged assault of a woman at a house in Bellevue, Washington, early in the morning of April 27, 2017. The Seahawks interior defensive lineman and the incident were investigated, the results were handed over to prosecutors, and prosecutors then declined to pursue the case further. No details of the incident were reported, but based on the lack of criminal charges — nor leaked evidence to the contrary — I'm left to assume little occurred on the date in question more than two years ago. That's not to say nothing happened, but whatever it was failed to warrant further effort on the part of the police or district attorney's office to punish Mr. Reed.
Yet Reed, like many before him, will be suspended and treated with the disdain that — rightfully — comes with putting your hands on a woman in anger.
But while Reed faces the music, Kansas City Chiefs receiver Tyreek Hill was recently exonerated by the league, citing the following as to why.
"Based on the evidence presently available, the NFL cannot conclude that Mr. Hill violated the Personal Conduct Policy."
Let us briefly reflect on what Mr. Hill has done and was accused of:
While in college he was arrested on complaints of assaulting his 20-year-old pregnant girlfriend, in which the police report states that the victim said the two argued, he threw her around like a rag doll, punched her in the face, sat on her and repeatedly punched her in the stomach, then choked her. He pleaded guilty to domestic assault and battery by strangulation and was sentenced to three years of probation. His girlfriend later gave birth to their son.
Five years later, in March 2019, Hill was investigated for alleged battery following an incident in which that same son suffered a broken arm. His son was temporarily removed from the custody of Hill and this girlfriend — the boy's mother — while an investigation into the incident was conducted by the state's Department of Children and Families. The Johnson County District Attorney later said that while he believed a crime had been committed, the evidence didn't allow them to conclude Hill was responsible. A day later a recording was released in which Hill and his girlfriend discussed their son's broken arm, and at one point while his girlfriend is telling Hill that his son is scared of him, Hill responds, "you should be afraid of me, too."
And it got worse. Yet nothing for Hill, while Reed will sit for 38 percent of his season, lose 38 percent of his annual income and will get little to no explanation from the league as to why.
This isn't a "we can't prove it thing" when it comes to the NFL. They don't have to prove anything, really. This isn't a court of law; the league has absolute power when it comes to adjudicating things of this nature and the only thing that might normally get in their way — the collective bargaining agreement between the players and owners — clearly grants them that right. So when they use the "based on the evidence" argument against punishing Hill, but punish Reed based on little more than a legally unsubstantiated claim, they're saying and doing entirely different things.
The NFL is the judge and jury when it comes to disciplining members of the league. Much of the reason they have that right is due to the never-ending backlash they endured decades ago as a result of policies seen as too lenient. They wanted to punish players based not on what could or couldn't be proven, but what all too clearly happened based on accounts of an incident or incidents involving their players — and they got it. But now — despite that tool in hand — they wield it with no consistency, no apparent structure and seemingly no thought. That might make sense to them, but it's nonsense to everyone else around them.
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