By: Jameson White
By now, the ongoing dispute between the National Football League and Ezekiel Elliott’s accusation of domestic violence against his former girlfriend, Tiffany Thompson, is public knowledge. This is an incident in which the victim had posted pictures on Instagram that showed multiple bruises on her neck, knees and arms. The caption stated that this had been going on for months, and to the point to where she had been “thrown across the room by [her] arms.” However, Elliott and his legal team have stated from the beginning that he was completely innocent and that he had never abused his ex-girlfriend, and throughout the case’s hearings, the court has believed the same, finding the Dallas Cowboys running back not guilty for “a lack of evidence.”
With the NFL dropping a six game suspension on Elliott, even without being found guilty in court, fans have become outraged with the league’s dealing on this issue, not only in this single case; but, in the NFL’s dealing with domestic violence cases as a whole. You have a player, in Elliott’s case, who is found not guilty in the eyes of the law and the NFL rules but will be suspended for six games. Another example is a player in another case in 2015, former Giants punter Josh Brown, who publicly stated that he had beaten his wife multiple times in the past. The NFL’s response was a one-game suspension, which shows tremendous inconsistency. This is not to say that Elliott is innocent by any means. He very well could be guilty. However, this does mean that the league desperately needs to fix the system and plans that they have in place over issues with domestic violence.
Domestic violence is an issue that often in sports, fans just push it to the side and almost don’t even care what happens to the victim of this crime. Whenever a player on their favorite team is suspended, their first reaction to this suspension is to see who the team plays and start to think about how they’ll fare without this star player. What about the woman on the receiving end of this assault? They ask, “Will this team be able to make it through this grueling four-game stretch without this guy running the football?,” instead of “how is she dealing with this physical or emotional trauma?” This is the reality that the NFL themselves has brought out.
These players are icons and celebrities to fans of all ages, and through football, they have a platform to express their views and opinions. There are players advocating for getting kids to be in better shape with their “NFL Play 60” movement. Players will also use this to stand up to the issue of racial equality. Some take their stand against domestic violence through commercials. This platform can also become a huge negative whenever you have these domestic violence accusations, as now these fans see the player they look up to hitting their girlfriend and getting only a minimal punishment by the league. They have to change their policies and use this platform to tell the players and people in general that this isn’t okay. Domestic violence is an issue that needs to be taken very seriously, and you have to be consistent with the way you punish the players who commit this offense.
Not only is it wrong for the NFL’s public relations team, but also morally wrong to have a punter state that he beats his wife and suspend him for a single game. Defensive end, Greg Hardy, threw his then-girlfriend, Nicole Holder, around the room, shoved her onto a bed full of assault rifles, and threatened to kill her, and was only suspended for merely four games. Is this the stand that the NFL wants to take against these assaults? Is this really the message the league wants to send to their fans? Because of the NFL’s reactions to these cases, they make it seem that abusing women is acceptable. It has to come to the point where there is no tolerance for the issue of domestic violence in not just the NFL, but for anybody. Enough is enough.