The worst brings out the best: NFL players show fans the silver lining
There has been a debacle in the National Football League regarding instances of domestic violence and child abuse.
Baltimore Ravens running back Ray Rice is in the process of appealing the NFL’s indefinite suspension given to him after video of him beating his wife in February surfaced on the Internet. Minnesota Vikings running back Adrian Peterson also shares the spotlight in the headlines after hitting his four-year-old son with a wooden stick for “discipline purposes.”
Unfortunately for Peterson, the NFL did not see it that way, as he now faces the end of his 2014 season and potentially his career.
The players are not the only ones finding themselves in hot water. NFL commissioner, Roger Goodell, denied any knowledge of Rice and the video footage and is now under fire by coaches, players and fans in reaction to the startling two game suspensions he gave Rice. With this and more circulating in the NFL, sports enthusiasts want to know: Will Goodell lose his job? Will Ray Rice and the countless other domestic violence offenders see the field again this season or ever? And how many more acts of violence will it take to make a statement and make a change in the league?
Sadly, all of these answers are still up in the air.
Some fans say it is unfortunate that the NFL is getting a bad reputation for the actions of a small percentage of the program. Others say that it was brought upon itself by not having a stricter policy regarding playing suspensions and salary.
What I find to be even more troubling, however, is that the media turns its primary focus on exposing the negative events and uses the largest outlets to do so.
The domestic violence cases are plastered on ESPN, USA Today and other major sports platforms. If this is not the behavior the NFL wants to be known for, then why put it out there on every media channel? I recently logged onto Facebook and was greeted with a change of scenery from cat videos, Buzzfeed posts and of course, the Rice and Peterson stories. Drifting far from the NFL negativity was a video that hit close to my heart and hometown of Hartland, WI.
Green Bay Packers quarterback, Aaron Rodgers, recently paid a visit to 12-year-old, Annie Bartosz, the founder of the G9 project in memory of her brother, to join in the fight against childhood cancer. Rodgers has also teamed up with the David Gruber Law Firm to reach out to children and families affected by childhood cancer.
Similarly, another clip was posted in which Houston Texans defensive linebacker, J.J. Watt, surprised a young boy named Billy and helped him regain his confidence and love for football after being bullied for his size and physical appearance. Watt also established the JJWatt Foundation that provides safe, supervised, and bully-free after-school opportunities for children to participate in athletics.
It is comforting to know that there is a flip side to bad NFL player reputations. There are players upholding their commitment as role models to the country’s aspiring young athletes. As the news unfolds more developments in the Rice and Peterson cases, we can only hope that more highlights of the good deeds done by other players can overpower our views on professional athletes. There would be more relief for the fans from the onslaught of negativity, and it would allow the NFL to reclaim its position as a competitive sports brand.