Unknown-1The 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.

UnknownEvery 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.

Join the Conversation


Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

  1. Dr. Jen, I appreciate you mentioning my NFL Domestic Violence petition in your post. I definitely agree that a color change is not going to do it but it will definitely help. The NFL can make a big impact on awareness but for some reason they seem to want to ignore the issue of Domestic Violence, while I personally love football. The NFL or Roger Goodell, I should say had to take a stronger stance and stand on the issue of Domestic Violence. Great Article and thanks again!

  2. But it isn’t just domestic violence. That is one huge terrible part of the picture. Two other things concern me. First is the attitude of violence that is inherent in the game of football. If you are to succeed in football in any level, you must be meaner, bigger and badder than anyone else. Some men can isolate the two, but most cannot. But we will never totally know how much of that violence is due to repeated traumatic brain injuries in the form of concussions. Most of these players have been playing from the time they have been in elementary school. They have received repeated blows to the head, repeated concussions and been taught to just play through the pain. This is the attitude that must change before we will save any lives in football.

  3. I completely agree that the NFL – as well as college and high school athletic programs and other professional sports leagues – should have a strong commitment against domestic violence. The kind that directly addresses and tries to prevent domestic violence within their own ranks, not just “raise awareness” of DV for the outside world.

    However, I’m not sure that this is an example that could have been prevented by such a program. By all accounts, Jovan Belcher had never shown any signs of violence or emotional instability toward anyone, including his girlfriend (the mother of his infant daughter). Now, that could very well mean that his agent, coach, and other players weren’t able to recognize the signs of DV. But it could also mean that this particular horrific, violent act was not part of a pattern of domestic violence on Belcher’s part.

    I think it’s important to be careful not to lump Belcher in with some of the other black football players that you’ve mentioned (you had no examples of white abusers?). We don’t have to have Belcher as a DV posterboy in order to argue for anti-DV programs in the NFL.

  4. For what it’s worth, the NFL pink campaign benefits the American Cancer Society, not Komen. And yes, I know that’s the main part of the article.

    I am certainly against domestic violence, and this is tragic, but I almost get the sense that the NFL is being blamed for the incident (at least, that’s the tone I’m getting). Awareness would certainly help, but I’m not sure why the NFL players are being singled out on this. There are lots of actors, musicians, and other celebrities in the public eye that are perpetrators of DV. So should Chris Brown not be allowed to sell any more records? Should actors not be allowed to star in movies?

    I guess my point is, while this is tragic, and I agree it’s a worthy cause, why is it the NFL’s responsibility? People need to be responsible for their own actions. Yes, if erratic behavior is noticed, it should be reported, but who should really have the burden on this? Not trying to upset anyone here, I’m just getting a weird tone from this article, I guess . . .

    1. Yes, they are giving the ACS, but not that much: http://www.businessinsider.com/why-is-the-nfl-profitting-off-of-breast-cancer-2012-10

      Also, I don’t recall Dr Gunter making a case to cancel the NFL, so I don’t really follow your logic about Chris Brown not selling records. I think an equivalent to him would be to do some PSAs about not being a douche. Which would require him to, first and foremost, stop being a douche.

      Taking responsibility is great. The NFL can start with traumatic encephalitis. But again, I don’t think Dr Gunter said intimate partner violence was the NFL’s fault. She just said they have an opportunity and an ideal audience to really make a difference (instead of pretending like their player didn’t just murder his girlfriend, for starters).

      Thank you, Dr Gunter for this article. I’m getting pretty sick of us forgiving and forgetting domestic violence because it makes us too uncomfortable to address it.

%d bloggers like this: