NFL's Domestic Violence Policy Once Again In Spotlight With Foster Case
The NFL yesterday put LB Reuben Foster on its commissioner's exempt list after the Redskins claimed him, and it is "'uncertain' how the union would proceed in terms of arbitrating the paid-leave decision" for Foster before NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell, according to a source cited by Mark Maske of the WASHINGTON POST. The league and Goodell will have the "discretion to keep Foster from playing for the Redskins while his legal case proceeds." The move ensures that Foster "will not play" for the Redskins until the league "makes a final disciplinary decision in his case, probably after the conclusion of legal proceedings." Sources said that the entire process almost "certainly will keep Foster from practicing with the Redskins or attending their games for the remainder of this season and could keep him off the field for at least a portion of next season." Sources added that the league began its "own investigation of Foster’s case Sunday and will continue to conduct that probe while monitoring developments in the legal case." The NFL could "make its decision on whether to suspend Foster under the personal conduct policy before his legal proceedings conclude." However, sources said that it is "unlikely that the league will get ahead of the legal case and make such a decision on a suspension before there is an outcome of the criminal proceedings" (WASHINGTON POST, 11/29).
WAITING GAME: In DC, Zielonka & Paras in a front-page piece write the Redskins' decision to sign Foster put the team at the "center of a debate over whether the NFL is doing enough to curb the abuse of women by players." The league "continues to struggle with an epidemic of violence-related arrests and court cases involving players." Much has "changed in the four years" since former NFLer Ray Rice’s domestic abuse case. The NFL "implemented tougher rules for suspending players involved in domestic violence." But to this day, the NFL "hands down suspensions shorter than six games for most NFL players accused of domestic violence." And a commission on domestic violence organized by the NFLPA has been "seen as ineffective, with two consultants resigning in June claiming their recommendations were ignored" (WASHINGTON TIMES, 11/29). SI.com's Jonathan Jones noted before the Rice scandal, the commissioner’s exempt list was a "seldom-used tool in the league for players facing unusual circumstances." But in the past four years, a "disturbing pattern has developed -- and that pattern continued this week" with Foster. The list has become a "stowaway for guys who have abused those close to them, and it comes with no penalty to the teams who wish to keep the players" (SI.com, 11/28). YAHOO SPORTS' Terez Paylor writes this entire saga is the "latest reminder of why you should never, ever underestimate what the NFL is at its core." Behind all the "highlights, all the touchdowns and all the public relations stunts and charity, the NFL is a business" (SPORTS.YAHOO.com, 11/29).
ANOTHER BAD HEADLINE: In DC, Barry Svrluga writes an NFL team has a "chance to set an example of what’s good and right," but the Redskins "don't do that. Ever." The Redskins "lead in no way." Depending on the outcome of Foster's criminal case and the NFL investigation, he may "never suit up." Svrluga: "But it’s too late. We know the stand Washington took" (WASHINGTON POST, 11/29). TheFootballGirl.com Founder & Managing Editor Melissa Jacobs said the decision to sign Foster makes the Redskins the "seediest organization in sports," and this is "another action in the line of a very disturbing ownership" ("OTL," ESPN, 11/28). L.A. Times columnist Bill Plaschke called the Redskins the "most tone deaf organization in professional sports." The Colorado Springs Gazette's Woody Paige said the "common link among all the problems they've had this year" is Owner Dan Snyder ("Around The Horn," ESPN, 11/28).THE ATHLETIC's David Aldridge wrote the Redskins are the "one NFL franchise that has not earned the benefit of the doubt about anything over the last decade or so, on or off the field." The team shows the "back of its hand to people that care about it and only want it to succeed the way other sports franchises seem to be able to do: honorably" (THEATHLETIC.com, 11/28).
TROUBLE STARTS UP TOP: In DC, Deron Snyder writes unfortunately for Redskins Senior VP/Player Personnel Doug Williams and Snyder, it "doesn’t matter whether Foster ever wears the uniform in a game." His presence has already "sullied the franchise, regardless of results in the criminal case." The Redskins "delivered the wrong message: Getting a domestic violence suspect on the roster is more important than letting him face repercussions for his decisions" (WASHINGTON TIMES, 11/29). The Undefeated's Jason Reid said if Redskins President Bruce Allen and Snyder "want something to happen, it happens." Reid noted he has a "problem" with the fact that Williams was the one exec on the press release announcing the Foster signing and "no one else was on that release." Williams was "out front" with the signing because he is a "beloved figure with Redskins' fans." Reid: "A real disservice to Doug Williams. ... When you've been wondering in the desert for a generation and you don't make the playoffs very often and you have such a poor organizational culture, you will try to do things like this" ("OTL," ESPN, 11/28).
TRUST ISSUES: In DC, Dan Steinberg writes people "don't trust" the Redskins to "make admirable decisions, to defuse difficult situations, to calm public worries, to do the right thing." The Redskins have "lost the trust of many of their fans." And that goes "beyond wins and losses, because the team has been reasonably competitive now for four straight seasons while continuing to alienate some of its supporters." Steinberg: "For years, I argued all the fan complaints would go away with more wins, but I’m not so sure anymore." The many fans who are "defending the Foster claim probably aren’t the ones who need wooing." It is with people who have been "turned off by years of embarrassing headlines, who now associate the team with some degree of shame" (WASHINGTON POST, 11/29). NBC Sports' Peter King said the move is "at best tone deaf and at worst an insult to every female fan who roots for the team" ("Nightly News," NBC, 11/28).