Cowboy fans, and really all NFL fans, please stop with this moral high-ground stance when players with legal issues get signed to new contracts. Because it starts with this undeniable fact:
YOU ARE STILL GOING TO WATCH ON SUNDAYS
You are. There is no way to get around it. A collective fan base is extremely powerful when acting as one, cohesive unit. Much like any other business, if the consumer quits purchasing a product, the business will fail/be forced to change. If you are truly upset, and you are so wildly morally outraged that player X gets to still play and make millions of dollars after hitting a woman, or pulling out a gun, or driving drunk (possibly killing another human being), or abusing dogs/animals, or whatever crime the player committed, then this is how you would stand on those morals:
1. You would NEVER watch those games EVER AGAIN
2. You would NEVER buy/wear any gear by the teams
3. These two actions would ensure you NEVER, EVER associate yourself with the NFL ever again
Why step 3? Because every NFL franchise have players/had players who did some horrible things away from the football field. USA Today has complied every single arrest/charge in the NFL since 2000 (http://www.usatoday.com/sports/nfl/arrests/). Their records state there has been almost 800 events in that time frame. So lets look at specifically at players currently on the Dallas Cowboys roster for argument’s sake.
2014 Greg Hardy- “Police responded to call and reported that a woman accused Hardy of assaulting her and threatening her”
2012 Dez Bryant- “Turned himself in after being accused by his mother of hitting her.”
2012 Josh Brent- “Charged with intoxication manslaughter after flipping his car, killing teammate Jerry Brown. Police report blood-alcohol content at .189”
2011, 2013 Orlando McClain- “Accused of discharging a gun within city limits of Decatur, Ala., and putting a gun next to a man’s head in fight.” “Accused of resisting arrest at park in Decatur, Ala., after police responded to report of disturbance”
Not exactly the greatest line up. However, there was zero backlash against McClain being signed and all he did was put a gun to a man’s head. Let’s not also forget the Cowboys signed Adam “Pac Man” Jones and as of 2013 “Accused of punching a woman outside a Cincinnati bar on June 5. It is his eighth run-in with the law since 2005”. Crickets….crickets. Are the voices louder today because of the Ray Rice video? More than likely. So let’s go look at a few examples pre-2013 of specifically domestic violence.
2010 – Will Smith, DE for the Saints, “Charged after police in Lafayette, La., observed him allegedly arguing with his wife and pulling her by the hair.” He played for the saints for another 2 seasons after the incident
2010 – Leory Hill, linebacker for the Seahawks, “Charged with investigation of assault in the fourth degree/domestic violence from dispute with girlfriend in Issaquah, Wash”. He played for the Seahawks for another 2 seasons after the incident
2009 – Quinn Ojinnaka, OT for the Falcons at the time, “Accused of tossing his wife down the stairs and throwing her out of the house after an argument over him contacting a girl on Facebook in Gwinnett County, Ga.” He played in the NFL for another 3 years
2005 – Larry Johnson, RB for the KC Chiefs, “Accused of domestic abuse in scuffle with his girlfriend at a bar. Police said he shoved her to the floor.” Played for the Chiefs for another 4 years, was playing in the NFL until 2012. Also in 2003, “Accused of brandishing a gun during a dispute with his girlfriend, felony aggravated assault.”
2003- Michael Pittman, RB for the TB Bucs, “Police said he rammed his Hummer into his wife’s Mercedes, which was carrying his 2-year-old child and a babysitter in Phoenix.” Played on TB for another 4 years, was in the NFL till 2008
2000 – Corey Dillon, RB for the Bengals, “Accused of striking his wife in Washington, fourth-degree assault.” He played for the Bengals another 3 years, played in the NFL till 2006
2000 – Rod Smith, WR for the Broncos, “Accused of choking, beating and shoving his common-law wife at home near Denver.” He played for the Broncos for another 6 seasons.
2000 – Ray Lewis, LB for the Ravens, “Accused of murder in the stabbing deaths of two men outside a nightclub in Atlanta on the night of the Super Bowl.” Will most likely be a 1st-ballot Hall of Famer.
Do we see a trend here? I didn’t even put Adrian Peterson’s latest event on here because he will be playing football until he can’t run. Most of the cases I listed involved the players pleading to guilty to a lesser charge. Here is the thing, we all know right from wrong (hopefully). Think we can safely say hitting a woman or child is wrong, drinking and driving is wrong, murder is wrong.
So what gives? How can we as humanity stand for such injustice!? Let’s start with the idea of second chances. This country is full of people who have drastically turned their lives around after some dark, troubled days. If you serve the time for the crime, then any business (NFL or any other big business) can employ you at their own discretion. Second point, when you possess a very specialized skill that very few people can duplicate (ie star athletes, top actors/actresses, 4 star generals, we just saw General Petraeus get a slap on the wrist for willfully giving his mistress/author classified information) these individuals get off easy. It’s a hard fact to stomach, but it is reality. Life isn’t fair, and if you haven’t figured that out/accepted that yet, you are probably the one who complains the most and the loudest.
People haven’t stopped watching movies with actors who have domestic abuse arrests. People are not going to stop watching the NFL either. So stop with the fake outrage. You can be disappointed for sure, but there is no need to put on some spectacle about how “you can’t believe they did this” or “Team X will do whatever it takes to win, including selling their soul” All teams in all sports will do whatever it takes to win, that’s another fact. But at the root of this whole thing is social media has made it “trendy, fashionable, hip, etc.” to voice his or her 2 cents on hot button issues. I’m certainly guilty of doing it as well. These actions have become all but natural in society. But, can we all stop pretending like we are really outraged about this? This type of hollow and empty social media outrage fuels this imaginary fire that things can be changed with 140 characters at a time. It can START a change, it can IGNITE that fire, but it can’t sustain it. ACTIONS are what sustain change, not tweets/pics/memes/vines/FB statues/etc.
You are not a trend-setter by talking about your outrage with this topic. As long as your team wins, or you are entertained (see Sean Penn, Mel Gibson, Chris Brown, 50 Cent, Charlie Sheen, Mike Tyson, Nicholas Cage, the list goes on) you will turn your back to their troubled past. Do I like that it is easy for me to disconnect myself from what all of these individuals have done to enjoy their craft that they have elevated to the highest level? No, absolutely not. But when it comes to entertainment, those recognizable faces/players are often looked at as simply entertainers, not actual people. Think about growing up, when did you finally realize that there is an actual human being in those jerseys?
As a kid, you see these entertainers for what they do, not as an actual person. You might become more conscious of that those are actual humans out there, but you get consumed by the great feeling of joy, angry, frustrations, jubilation, any number of strong emotions because of the talent they have. It is because of this that allows so many of us to have the layer of disconnection between ourselves and those out there on that stage or field. The entertainment is so enjoyable for us, we don’t want to remember the person under the helmet that punched a woman, or that William Wallace isn’t actually a hero off the big screen. So while I condemn the actions taking by these athletes, performers, etc, I will not pretend to be morally outraged when they continue to get work. I also would encourage others to accept this as well, mainly just to put an end to endless whining. If you won’t accept it, you can do two things. First of which is take action, refuse to consume “products” produced by those with domestic violence charges. That’s how you can really make a statement. But if you can’t stop yourself from flipping on the Redzone channel, or going to that new movies, then do us all a favor and shut up.