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When Will the NFL Start to Care?


“He hits women! He hits women,” is what Auburn Tigers fans chanted at Joe Mixon during the Sugar Bowl this year. Mixon, the star running back for the Oklahoma Sooners, found himself in hot water his sophomore year after he punched a female student, breaking several bones in her face.

The incident occurred in a restaurant and was caught on video, which was released to the public only after the Oklahoma Association of Broadcasters sued for its release. Mixon was suspended for the 2014 season, but took a redshirt—meaning he technically lost zero games of eligibility. Now, in 2017, Mixon has been drafted to the Cincinnati Bengals. This raises the question—what kinds of things will owners and managers of NFL teams overlook in order to snag a top college football prospect?

However, one man will not overlook this kind of behavior: Jets general manager Mike Maccagnan. In a press conference, Maccagnan implied that he would not be interested in drafting players who had histories of domestic violence.

“There are some things that are extremely egregious, which I personally have a very hard time condoning,” the Jets manager stated in a pre-draft news conference. “Violence, in particular, that is a very serious thing to me. For me and my wife, we had a personal experience with that.”

The personal experience he is referring to happened in 2010 when he and his wife, Betty Maccagnan, were living in Houston. A friend who lived across the street from the Maccagnans was brutally murdered by her husband the same night he was supposed to sign divorce papers. The tragic incident inspired Betty Maccagnan to get involved in the One Love Foundation, which raises awareness about the warning signs of abuse.

Unfortunately, Maccagnan’s stance on players with a history of domestic abuse is unique in the NFL.

Wide receiver Dede Westbrook, who was arrested twice for domestic abuse charges against the mother of his children, was drafted this year by the Jacksonville Jaguars.

“I got in some trouble and I did some things as well, but I was never convicted of anything. Like, I’ve been to jail, but all the charges [were] dropped. I have no pending charges or anything. So, I think I’m just like you,” Westbrook said in an interview with USA Today.

After the infamous Ray Rice incident, a new league policy was announced by NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell. The policy stated that players who violated the Personal Conduct Policy regarding assault, battery, domestic violence, or sexual assault that involve physical force would be subjected to a six-game suspension for a first offense.

Despite this, the NFL never announced a suspension for the San Francisco 49ers’ starting defensive end Ray McDonald after his domestic abuse arrest. The 49ers decided to allow McDonald to play until allegations of rape involving a different woman surfaced, forcing the team to cut him. Then, McDonald was picked up by the Chicago Bears as a free agent, only to be released again after yet another arrest over a domestic dispute.

In his press conference, Maccagnan said that he wanted “players that are good players and ideally good people and good members of our society.”

Shouldn’t others in the NFL feel the same?


Featured Image by ljv on Flickr

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