Josh Brown’s ex-wife, Molly, claims that the New York Giants kicker has physically abused her more than 20 times in recent years, but that didn’t stop team owner John Mara from re-signing the 37-year-old Pro Bowler to a two-year deal.
The NFL requires a six-game suspension for any player in violation of its domestic-violence policy, but the league, after looking into the 2015 allegation, suspended Brown for just one game. Charges against Brown were dropped days after his arrest, but is the reduced suspension the right message to send to NFL fans?
“When you deal with domestic violence and you deal with an issue that so many families are dealing with – and it’s such a sensitive topic, and we want to send the right message to not only our youth, but to families and to women in general that we support them – you always have to be very careful with this topic,” CBS Sports NFL and college football analyst Jay Feely said on CBS Sports Radio’s The Doug Gottlieb Show. “I think the NFL realized that with the Ray Rice debacle. I knew about this a long time, to be honest with you. I know there’s a lot of circumstances that nobody knows about, and I guess that’s the best way that I can put it. I’m sure John Mara understands all those circumstances, and that’s what he’s referring to. Anytime you have a situation like this, there’s a lot that goes on behind the scenes, and it’s just a shame in general.”
Mara, 61, is one of the most respected owners in football.
“He’s measured, he’s thoughtful, he goes through everything,” Feely said. “It’s something that they’ve known about for a long time, not something that was sprung upon them.”
Still, the one-game suspension goes against the NFL’s hard-and-fast six-game policy. Other players have been suspended for six games, and other players will likely be suspended for six games in the future.
How does one reconcile that?
“It’s difficult,” Feely said. “And I would say without somebody coming out and saying, ‘Hey, these are the circumstances, these are the mitigating factors, this is why he didn’t deserve a six-game suspension like other people have got and will get,’ I think it’s hard for the public to justify that.”
In other news, the NFL’s decision to move touchbacks to the 25-yard-line – in an effort to cut down kick returns, and thus, concussions – is backfiring. Last year, just 41.1 percent of kickoffs were returned during the regular season. Through the first two weeks of the preseason, that number has spiked to 67 percent.
That’s because teams don’t want to give up the extra five yards and are intentionally trying to pin teams inside the 25.
“You look at the difference in five yards per kick, and it ends up being about a point-and-a-half per game, and teams don’t want to give up that amount of yardage and the potential for points,” Feely said. “So they’re saying, ‘Okay, we’re going to kick it deep and we’re going to cover and now you’re going to have a lot more kicks. . . . I think they were a probably a little negligent in not talking to kickers and special-teams coaches and finding out more about what the impact of this rule would be before they passed it. But I’m hopeful that they make changes that keep the play, that keep kickoff returns in the game, because it is one of the most exciting plays. When you have a kickoff return for a touchdown, it gets everybody off their feet and everybody into the game and it changes the momentum of games. That’s a play that I don’t want to see go away.”