The NFL didn’t think Antonio Brown was a problem before this week’s display

This is right.

This is right.
Illustration: Shutterstock

There was a time in my life when nothing was as exciting as the start of the NFL season, the Bear season, here in Chicagoland.

I can’t remember a moment before the Bears, sitting on my dad’s lap, watched the greatest all-round player ever, Walter Payton (not me @), haul whole piles of colossal men with him as he struggled to the goal line.

Later, as I grew up, there were the 1985 Bears, Sunday afternoon surveillance parties, and long drive home from remote gymnastics matches and soccer games, hanging on play-by-play radio presenter Wayne Lar.every word of rivee, trying to collect a mental picture of what was happening on the pitch. In my small northern Illinois town, Sunday was for the Bears.

These days, I look forward to the NFL season with equal parts of excitement and terror. We all want to win back those magical weeks our team is heading to the playoffs, there is nothing like it anywhere else in the sport. But it is also the moment when I am more aggressively reminded of what a huge portion of the American public think of women and how much our lives and well-being are worth, that is, not much.

It started earlier this year, in the first 15 minutes of Thursday Night Football’s first broadcast, when Al Michaels recaps Antonio ‘Brown’s history, which includes sexual assaults and sexual misconduct accusations, a video in which he encourages the police to “Beat her ass! Beat it! ” about the mother of his children, while the police and his children watched, and the time he tstole the furniture from the 14th floor balcony, narrowly missing a small child, as “past problems”. That flurry was immediately followed by a brilliant report by Michelle Tafoya, praising Tom Brady for being, as Gretchen Weiners would say, such a good friend of Antonio Brown. The fact that Brown had settled a lawsuit accusing him of a violent sexual assault earlier that spring was never mentioned.

That Brown was still playing in the NFL since Sunday had long seemed like a hard slap in the face to fans, as far as we understand anyone can stay in the NFL. if they are good enough. But it was an affront on a much deeper level to see NFL fans, en masse, come to the conclusion that Brown was a problem because he took off his shirt and ran to the end. area, as if that were finally, finally, the last straw. Not the video of him verbally assaulting his children’s mother and throwing her a bag of gummy cocks, not the allegations that he threw a longtime friend on the bed and forcibly raped her. It was the fact that he “left his team” that ultimately caused the fans to turn against him.

I would be remiss if I didn’t mention the consent Brown must have CTE and was violent towards women because of the success Vontaze Burfict made him in 2016. Sure, it would be foolish to assume that an NFL player does not suffer from a head injury, but if Twitter decides that Brown is not responsible for the women he harmed e completely acquitted of any responsibility for his actions is ridiculous. I’ve heard many men nonchalantly claim that CTE is also the reason OJ Simpson (allegedly) killed Nicole Brown Simpson, completely ignoring evidence of decades of Simpson’s aggressive and abusive behavior. Now, Simpson has nearly 900,000 Twitter followers. Tell me more about how men’s lives are ruined by simple allegations of violence against women.

Also, the narrative right after Brown left the stadium was that he “needs help,” which he certainly does. But I’ve never heard any of the talking heads, or Tom Brady for that matter, express sympathy for Brown’s victims. Because when it comes to the NFL, the women that violent players leave behind are an afterthought. It is also hard for me to believe that Brady and others they have the same level of compassion and mental health concern when they see someone’s mugshot on TV, because, you see, your average rapist or offender can’t help you win a Super Bowl.

I spent the start of the last Super Bowl hoping someone in the media would ask Tom Brady or Bruce Arians if they had anything to say to Brown’s victims. For someone to ask Brady why he felt comfortable bringing a man accused of harming multiple women into his home, where his wife and daughter live. For someone asking Ariani how he could claim to be an advocate of women on his staff while still hiring Brown. Those questions never came. They never do.

Here’s a fun exercise to illustrate my point: try to emphasize the NFL’s word service to combat domestic violence and social media sexual assault. Those of us who often talk about violent athletes with women end up with all sorts of threats and insults in Twitter replies and messages, because how dare we criticize a guy who’s really good at football, when he was probably a little bit of gold ? – digger whore trying to steal his money? And it’s not just some men who like to jump into our mentions with misogynistic abuse. There are many men.

Hell, we don’t even have to say anything controversial to get carried away by men. Here’s a message shared Sunday by ESPN’s Mina Kimes:

It’s easy to laugh at how ridiculous Charles Brown is, and he was rightfully dragged on Twitter for being a troll living in the basement. But the fact is, women in sports media regularly get a lot of messages like this (and many that are much, much worse). And I’ve never had more like it during NFL season. There is something hyper-masculine about the way the game is presented by the league and it’s its partners who give horrible men permission to go wild on women. And they do.

You are right. It never stops.

And then there was Ben Roethlisberger’s Monday night match last night, during which the MNF TV crew turned into pretzels to avoid mentioning it Roethlisberger was accused of rape by multiple women as well has been suspended from the league due to the large number of stories of his disgusting behavior towards women. Unless you google it, you would never find out about Roethlisberger’s story, because God knows the NFL and ESPN won’t talk about it.

While a certain segment of men love to raise the fact that Brown and Roethlisberger were “accused, not found guilty!” of harming women, they do not realize that it is likely that due to their status as professional athletes they have not been charged. It is not proof that the allegations were false. Rather, it is an affirmation of the power differential between a top athlete and his team (lawyers, agents, publicists, league, teammates) and the one woman standing against them. It is an affirmation of patriarchy and the status of women as second-class citizens in our society.

I didn’t intend this column to come out as such a primal cry against the NFL, but as much as I love football, it’s hard not to come to the conclusion that the NFL itself has become an extremely toxic place for women. Does it increase the aggression with which hardcore fans treat women they meet online (and probably in real life)? It’s hard to know, but the anecdotal evidence is hard to ignore.

As I have said many times before, according to NFL numbers, women make up something like 47 percent of the fan base. If it were another demographic, the league would fall backwards courting and bowing to them, as they did with casual sports bettors. I’m not sure why Roger Goodell and the league haven’t made any effort with women, other than they don’t have to. Let’s not forget the women outside M&T Bank Stadium wearing Ray Rice shirts a few days after we all saw the video of him throwing his back then-fiancée now wife in an elevator. Perhaps we have just come to accept that things will never get better. Perhaps we have all internalized social misogyny to the point that we no longer notice it. Maybe we are as bad as the men who “just want to watch football without all the politics”.

But imagine the effect we could have if 47 percent of the fan base asked the NFL to do better.

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