If Odell Beckham Jr. was actually the Giants' biggest off-field issue, imagine the tight ship that coach Ben McAdoo would seemingly be running. After Beckham hit the Giants' kicking net (an inanimate object) with his helmet after the Giants' loss to the Redskins, McAdoo demanded his star player be "less of a distraction to his teammates," and the coach was equally perturbed by Beckham's “lack of focus” after making up and proposing to the net during a win Sunday. A powerful message like that will certainly strike fear in the hearts of Beckham and his teammates, definitely keeping them in line on and off the field. After all, if you can't engage in misguided yet utterly harmless sideline antics, imagine the scorn players would receive from McAdoo for engaging in real trouble—like the kind that gets you a mug shot.
Oh wait, that would be absolutely none.
Giants kicker Josh Brown was arrested in May 2015 on a domestic violence charge, and in the police report his now ex-wife alleged at least 20 other incidents. Despite this information, the NFL curiously suspended Brown just one game even though its self-trumpeted domestic violence policy calls for a baseline six-game suspension for a first-time violation. Early last month, Brown cast off the arrest as "just a moment" without providing an ounce of detail and McAdoo supported his Pro Bowl kicker as a good father and player.
It all felt smarmy at the time—another criminal receiving the NFL's way-too-precedented “talent trumps trouble” treatment. And the one-game suspension issued by the league made a total mockery of its supposedly stringent domestic violence policy.
But now things have shifted from disgusting to absolutely horrifying.
SNY obtained documents, including a journal written by Brown titled "Contract for Change," in which the kicker readily admitted to hurting his wife in front of her children, viewing her "as my slave," and taking other measures to make her feel inferior. "I have abused my wife," read one of the entries.
So now what? Brown's immediate ramifications should be clear: The Giants must cut him and the NFL must implement a new suspension of at least five games. Why has this not happened yet? What is there to discuss?
Quite frankly, I am exhausted from stating the obvious time and time again, and reading my colleagues doing the same. Journalists and fans shouldn’t have to double as troubleshooters, shaming the league into doing the right thing.
Two years have passed since the Ray Rice debacle. The league has since updated its personal conduct policy, hired three domestic violence experts, ran DV public service spots and conducted DV education sessions for all 32 teams. What was it all for? As the mishandling of Brown's case illustrates, we are literally back to the drawing board. In theory, it would be great to ponder ways the NFL can actually suppress its domestic violence problem. But it is running out of Band-aids.
The harsh reality is that the league’s lifeblood is a culture of turning a blind eye. If there were an actual code of conduct, like the kind you have in a real job, the league would be out of business. The only short-term hope is that coaches like McAdoo start reordering their priorities and actually consider it far more egregious to kick a woman than a net.
But considering that Brown is still on the Giants’ roster, I’m not holding out hope.