Athletes must now step up, deal with violence problem

Roger Goodell is the most hated commissioner in professional sports today, and rightfully so, for his role in allowing violence to take the NFL by storm.

Currently unemployed running back Ray Rice and Minnesota Vikings star Adrian Peterson were let off the hook for their careless and reckless actions.

The NFL’s dropping of the ball first occurred with Goodell’s two-game suspension for Rice and, most recently, in the initial decision made by the Vikings ownership group regarding whether to play or sit Peterson in the week following the news of his indictment on child abuse charges.

The league showed its supremacy over violence in not taking a more powerful stand against Rice and Peterson for their inexcusable actions.

So now it’s time for the biggest role models in the league – such as Larry Fitzgerald of the Cardinals, Drew Brees of the Saints and Russell Wilson of the Seahawks – to speak up and fully display how the image of the NFL’s “good guys” is being negatively affected by the actions of a few.

That’s the case if they don’t want the reputation of the league, which they love and make a living from, to become further tarnished and increasingly known for off-the-field violence.

This is the best way for NFL players and the players’ union to avoid getting “beat up” by the league-wide issue of violence over the course of the foreseeable future.

NFL players and the players’ association must put an end to the stranglehold that domestic and child abuse headlines have had on Goodell's multi-billion dollar business.

It’s time to get back to loving football on Sundays for all the right reasons: the superb athletes, highlight plays and the fact that more role models than criminals are employed by the league's 32 franchises.

The positivity for the league has to come from somewhere, and it’s not going to start with the $44 million man in Goodell, unless he steps down from his mighty powerful throne, which doesn't seem likely after his failed public relations stunt of a press conference.

But the players can make the biggest difference in changing the perception of fans that the professional football cash cow doesn’t care about its violence problem and, specifically, its problem with domestic abuse, which affects a woman every nine seconds in America.

Just as they support Breast Cancer Awareness Month in October in grand fashion via pink game apparel, the players need to do something similar to raise awareness of abuse.

Whether or not it comes in the form of in-game apparel or a full-fledged advertising campaign, the players’ union simply cannot waste this opportunity to use its power to positively sway public opinion.

There’s nothing, not even Goodell’s compromised position, that is capable of preventing the union from having a good impact if its members so choose.


Chirco is VN sports editor