Let’s here it for the women who’ve been beating the drum on the NFL domestic violence scandal – CBS’ Hannah Storm, who made it personal; ESPN’s Janet McManus, who keeps on digging. (Truth in advertising: Jane and I were colleagues at Gannett. She’s one of those brilliantly educated people who can talk just as knowledgeably about classics as she can about sports. Jane – one of the models for Brenna James, the sophisticated sports columnist in my forthcoming novel in “The Games Men Play Series,” “In This Place You Hold Me” – also brings a compassionate eye to what she does.)
That combination of smarts and empathy is something that’s sorely lacking as recent developments suggest that NFL and team leaders just don’t get it. The latest to weigh in – and trip all over himself in the process – was Baltimore Ravens’ owner Stephen J. Bisciotti, who was on the defensive at a news conference, claiming that he and his team did not press the league to bury former running back Ray Rice’s arrest for cold-cocking his future wife, Janay. Let’s just say that the adage that a good defense stops a good offense doesn’t apply here.
Indeed, The New York Times’ Juliet Macur – another heroine fighting the good fight – said in a Sept. 23 column that Bisciotti, commish Roger Goodell and company should “please just stop talking.”
Bisciotti admitted he “wasn’t concerned or interested enough to demand (the video of Rice punching his wife unconscious), and I’m deeply sorry for that.” Still, he has “incredible loving feelings for” Rice. And we know that in America, the Almighty Buck is the currency of love. What’s curious about Bisciotti’s press performance is how much of it was taken up with a discussion of money. By releasing Rice, Bisciotti figured he cost him $25 million. It was big of him, then, to offer Rice a $100,000 year job in which he would work in player development, “a great addition to us when it comes to trying to steer these guys, young men to grown men.”
Huh? A man who knocks his wife unconscious and then – and this is what really upset the women I talked to – dragged her out of a hotel elevator as if she were trash: This is a role model for youth?
But, hey, Bisciotti is all heart. He’s just thinking of Mrs. Rice, “still the one that’s suffering the most.” After all, “now she has an unemployed husband.”
Listen, honey, that is the least of her worries.
Hitting a woman isn’t a one-shot deal. It’s a pattern of behavior. And extricating yourself from an abusive relationship – as Quinn Novak, the quarterback-hero of “ITPYHM,” discovers – isn’t so easy. According to the organization “Hope’s Door,” 75 percent of domestic abuse homicides occur after the victim leaves the abuser or expresses the intent to do so.
On Sept. 26, Hope’s Door will take part in the 14th annual “Brides March,” honoring the memory of Gladys Ricart, a Dominican from the Washington Heights section of Manhattan murdered in New Jersey on her wedding day – Sept. 26, 1999 – by a former, abusive boyfriend.
The march begins 8 a.m. at the Fort Washington Heights Presbyterian Church, 21 Wadsworth Ave. at the corner of West 174th St. in Washington Heights. The opening ceremony will be at 9 a.m., with the seven-mile walk at 10:30 a.m. The closing ceremony will begin at 3:45 p.m. and conclude by 5 p.m.
Women are encouraged to march in white wedding dresses or white outfits. Men are encouraged to march in all black. Participants are welcome to bring photos and posters of victims of domestic violence who have lost their lives. At various points throughout the walk there will be altars and podiums to memorialize them.