Just in time for Super Bowl LI comes yet another chapter in the ongoing story of the NFL’s domestic violence problem. Former Giants star Josh Brown drew headlines this week after he publicly admitted domestic violence. The admission came during an emotional interview February 2 with ABC’s “Good Morning America.”
Sports pundits are describing the interview as Brown’s effort to revive his professional football career; the Giants dropped him in October after he admitted the abuse to the team. The NFL had earlier suspended Brown for one game for the spring 2015 incident. He was arrested on suspicion of domestic assault in the fourth degree after Molly Brown, now his ex-wife, said he grabbed her wrist during an argument. Charges were never filed, according to numerous media accounts of the case.
The public apology has become a staple in celebrity efforts to repair their reputations and careers. And the he said-she said nature of the incident is, sadly, familiar. The Brown situation, like all domestic violence cases, does have its own nuances. Central to the ABC interview were Brown’s journal entries, in which he wrote that he had “been physically, emotionally and verbally” abusive toward Molly Brown. The journals became public as part of the investigation.
Here’s some of what he said on “Good Morning America:”
I mean, I had put my hands on her. I kicked the chair. I held her down. The holding down was the worst moment in our marriage. I never hit her. I never slapped her. I never choked her. I never did those types of things.
Later, he concedes that, “What I did was wrong. Period.” He goes on to say that domestic violence is not just physical abuse: “We’re talking intimidation and threats, the attempt to control, body language.”
Despite talking the talk about domestic violence, he drew a distinction between abuse and, well, actually hitting his wife. He still draws a distinction between his actions and, you know, real abusers. “The world now thinks I beat my wife,” he said in the television interview. “I have never hit this woman. I never hit her. Not once.”
NFL commissioner Roger Goodell said Brown’s case is still open. We’ll see how the NFL applies its personal conduct policy, revised in 2014, after Ray Rice was caught on camera punching his then-fiancée in an elevator. Brown told ABC he’s hopeful he can play pro football again.
Super Bowl weekend, with more than 100 million people likely to watch the contest between the New England Patriots and the Atlanta Falcons, is a good time for the NFL to make it clear they plan to hold players accountable.
[ed: Interesting note on the body language in this interview. Brown shakes his head “no,” while saying “yes.” A common non-verbal indicating a dishonest response.]