The weekend 22-year-old Kassandra Perkins was murdered by Kansas City Chiefs’ player Jovan Belcher, who committed suicide shortly thereafter.
The Chiefs played the Carolina Panthers today, a team that shares a domestic violence tragedy of similar magnitude. Rae Carruth was a wide receiver for the Carolina Panthers when he arranged to have Cherica Adams, who was pregnant with his child, murdered. She initially survived the shooting, was delivered emergently, and her son is now 12-years-old and disabled with cerebral palsy. Ms. Adams later succumbed to the injuries she sustained.
Then there is Warren Moon, with numerous arrests for domestic violence.
And the Miami Dolphins’ Chad Johnson.
I could go on with a list of players arrested for domestic violence during their NFL career or after, but you get the point. I could also add college players, but this post has to have an end.
Earlier this year NFL commissioner Roger Goodell stated he was committed to addressing domestic violence, but changes have yet to be seen. The current system of fines and suspensions is as effective as closing the barn door after the horse has bolted and amounts to nothing worse than a slap on the wrist. Honestly, the NFL seemed more aghast at Michael Vick’s dog fighting than they are at the murder and beating of women at the hands of their players.
Every October the NFL joins the onslaught of companies that jump on the pinking of America bandwagon. I’m all for raising awareness, but pinking does little more than drive the Komen machinery to be the breast cancer charity that dwarfs all others and put dollars in the hands of corporations. I wonder what happens to the price of a minute of advertising for Monday night football during October?
The NFL should abandon pink for purple, the color of domestic violence awareness. Someone has already started a petition at change.org to get the NFL to swap pink for purple, but Roger Goodell, if you’re listening, it’s going to take more than a color change. It’s going to take a hard-core policy of making players ineligible for the draft if they have a history of violence off the field, no matter how fast they ran 100 yards in college. It’s going to take a zero-tolerance policy that leads to immediate life-time suspensions for off field violence. It’s going to take going into colleges and schools by players to raise awareness that domestic violence hurts everyone. It’s going to take a culture change.
I don’t know that domestic violence offenders are more likely to be professional football players, although they certainly become the high-profile ones. However, domestic violence perpetrators are more likely to be men and if the erectile dysfunction advertisements are any indicator, I’m guessing the demographic who watches the NFL heavily skews male so the NFL is poised to reach the target audience. And let’s not forget that men can also be victims of domestic violence, thus the NFL could also take the lead on raising awareness for battered men.
The NFL is the ideal group to get behind domestic violence awareness, but the statement released by NFL spokesman Greg Aiello about the murder of Kassandra Perkins tells me their heads are still firmly in the sand: “Our thoughts and prayers are with the Chiefs and the families and friends of those who lost their lives in this terrible tragedy.”
Lives weren’t lost, a woman was murdered and the murderer killed himself. There’s a difference. But acknowledging that would mean the NFL actually to take a real stand on domestic violence, and they probably won’t unless it affects advertising revenue.