Many employers considering job candidates would reconsider a person who has been accused or charged with a violent crime such as an act of domestic violence or sexual assault, even if that person met all of the qualifications for the position. There is much evidence to suggest that the NFL is not like most employers. As long as players can win games and fill stadiums, NFL teams seem indifferent to issues regarding violence against women.
In 2017, the league drafted several players who had been accused of violent acts. During the first round of the draft, the Oakland Raiders chose former Ohio State cornerback Gareon Conley, who has been accused — but not charged — of rape. The Cincinnati Bengals drafted Joe Mixon, a running back for Oklahoma, in the second round despite video evidence of him punching a woman with enough force to knock her unconscious.
The Cleveland Browns picked Caleb Brantley, who was also accused of punching a woman. He, a 6-foot 2-inch defensive lineman weighing 307 pounds, knocked a 5-foot 6-inch 120-pound woman out at a bar in Gainesville, which resulted in a misdemeanor battery charge. The Jacksonville Jaguars took on Oklahoma wide receiver Dede Westbrook despite accusations of violence involving the mother of his children. He too, allegedly punched his victim in the face, though charges were dropped.
NFL Forms Commission to Combat Domestic Violence
The issue of domestic violence within the NFL is so prominent that they established a commission dedicated to resolving them after player Ray Rice’s 2014 arrest for aggravated assault went viral. Recently, two women spearheading the commission’s efforts have announced their resignations citing failure to effect meaningful change.
The co-director of Georgetown University’s Law Center Domestic Violence Clinic and the former president of the National Network to End Domestic Violence left the NFLPA’s commission in May 2018. Deborah Epstein of Georgetown University publicly discussed her resignation in The Washington Post.
In her essay, Epstein describes her experience of working with a research psychologist to develop ways to address domestic violence in the NFL. The research concluded two years before her decision to resign, and — according to Epstein — the NFL has done little with the findings, convening only three times since the conclusion of the study.
“Authorizing a single study, and then burying it through a confidentiality agreement and shelving its recommendations does not constitute meaningful reform,” she wrote. “Because I care deeply about violence against women in the NFL and beyond, I can no longer continue to be a part of a commission that is essentially a fig leaf.”
High-profile Domestic Violence Cases Deserve Strong Representation
Domestic violence accusations can quickly get out of hand and harm a suspect’s reputation, especially when a suspect is a high-profile professional who frequently receives media attention. Those in positions of power with lucrative careers stand to lose more from a simple accusation than people who are not well-known. If you are an athlete, a physician, surgeon, counselor, professor, lawyer, therapist, or other licensed professional fighting accusations of domestic violence, assault, battery, or sexual assault or sexual battery, you must turn to a knowledgeable attorney who can provide your case the personalized attention it deserves.
At The Law Office of Gabriel & Gabriel, we have been protecting the rights of those facing criminal accusations and charges for over 30 years in Palm Beach County. Call 561-622-5575 or contact us for a free consultation.