Well, just when you think gender news couldn’t be any more depressing in this “election cycle” – “Is that what we’re calling it?” one wag asked me – comes word that New York Giants kicker Josh Brown was released from the team Tuesday after new information surfaced that he had assaulted his then-wife, Molly, two dozen times, including at least once when she was pregnant. After a botched initial NFL investigation that in effect blamed Molly Brown for not cooperating – yes, always good to blame the victim – Josh Brown was suspended for a big one game.
“He’s admitted to us that he’s abused his wife in the past,” the Giants co-owner John K. Mara said Thursday (Oct. 20) on WFAN in New York.
“And I think that’s what’s a little unclear, is the extent of that.”
Translation: It was OK for the Giants to resign Brown, because he may have knocked around the missus only a bit some time ago. This from a man who was among the team owners assigned to the NFL study of its tepid response two years ago to then-Baltimore Raven Ray Rice coldcocking his fiancée Janay Palmer and dragging her out of an Atlantic City casino elevator like a sack of potatoes. Clearly – sadly, disgustingly – the wear-pink-in-October-for-breast-cancer-awareness, hypocritical NFL has learned nothing. And it does nothing unless “the shield,” the NFL image, is affected. In this case, push finally came to shove.
But the implications are greater for the league and for American men than one abuser’s departure.
The NFL is losing viewers. Some critics have put the blame on San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick for kneeling during the National Anthem to protest violence against minorities. Yeah, of course, let’s demonize someone conducting a peaceful protest, but the guy abusing his wife and kids, that’s A-OK.
Sorry, NFL apologists, close but no Cuban cigar on this one. Why is the NFL losing fans? Oh, I don’t know, how about the violence on and off the field that’s concussing brains and bruising women? How about a presidential election in which one candidate has underscored the lack of respect for women – of which the NFL is yet another example?
The situation does not bode well for the NFL and it doesn’t bode well for American men. Undereducated, ex-con, drug-addicted, you name it, about one-fifth ages 20 to 65 did not work last year. And they won’t work until we come to grips with the need for retraining and a kind of WPA-style program to improve our nation’s infrastructure, which could utilize men and women. But men, and white men in particular, need to understand that women and minorities are not the enemies. They need to let us in, to share the toys in the political and economic sandbox.
Donald Trump is right: Change is in the air, but it’s not the change he thinks. America has become a country in which white men no longer hold power exclusively. It’s like a snake shedding its skin and, like that snake, the transition isn’t pretty.
I fear it may produce more Trumps and Josh Browns before the situation gets better.