NFL’s Integrity Challenged – A History of Violence


Ahmad Brooks played nearly a month after facing criminal charges. (PHOTO COURTESY OF MARK GAIL/VIA TNS)


On Aug. 26, Ahmad Brooks was charged with sexual battery. On Sept. 14, he was on the field for the San Francisco 49ers. Since 2012, seven players on the 49ers were arrested for charges ranging from driving under the influence to domestic violence. Of those seven, four are still currently on National Football League (NFL) rosters. We can argue whether Tom Brady deserved to be suspended or if “Deflategate” was really that controversial, but the fact remains: a player charged with sexual battery should not be playing in an NFL game.

In the last few years, there have been numerous high-profile cases of violence traced back to NFL players that have not resulted in significant punishment. After punching his wife on an elevator, an act that was caught on surveillance video, Ray Rice was initially only suspended for two games. He was later suspended for the entirety of the year, but is currently eligible to return to an NFL team. He isn’t the only player with a violent past allowed to take the field in the NFL.

Adrian Peterson is also set to return this season after serving a year’s suspension for a misdemeanor charge of recklessly assaulting his four-year-old son. He fittingly faced off against Ahmad Brooks and the 49ers on Sept. 14. After being found guilty of assaulting his ex-girlfriend, former Carolina Panthers defensive end Greg Hardy was suspended for all of last season and the first four games of this season. Despite his actions, he was given an $11.3 million contract from the Dallas Cowboys and will play for them in a couple of weeks.

Just this week, Aldon Smith was signed by the Oakland Raiders. Smith was one of the seven 49ers arrested over the past three years. Since 2012, Smith was arrested five times for various charges, ranging from driving under the influence to illegal possession of an assault weapon. Smith was given a contract of $1.25 million in base salary with the possibility of earning up to $8 million with incentives. Clearly NFL teams are placing greater importance on the playing ability of these athletes than the character of the individuals representing them.

The NFL was prepared to suspend Tom Brady for four weeks, because he was “at least generally aware” that footballs were being tampered with. NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell’s response to the allegations of air deflation was swift, while he will sit back and let a player convicted of sexual battery continue to play until facts are gathered and a court decision is made.

Brady was initially going to be ineligible to play due his actions being detrimental to the integrity of the game. Somehow, someone who is charged with sexual battery and another who assaults his wife are eligible to play. The problem is simple: Brooks is allowed to play, while Tom Brady was forced to bring his case before a federal court for a chance to get his suspension lifted.

If the NFL wants to uphold the integrity of the game, maybe it should begin to look at its history of criminal superstars who represent the league. Only when players who beat their children or assault a female are out of the league forever will the game have any integrity.

If you or someone you know is the victim of domestic violence, there is help available. To report child abuse or neglect, contact New York State Central Register (SCR) Child Abuse and Maltreatment Hotline by calling 1-800-342-3720. To report other forms of domestic violence, call the New York State Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-942-6906. Fordham’s Public Safety is always here to help as well and they can be reached at 212-636-6076. Of course, if you are ever in immediate danger, you can always call 911.