Owners of professional sports teams have a lot of responsibility when it comes to the success of their franchise. They are the ones putting up massive sums of money in an attempt to generate profit, but they also control the direction of personnel hirings. Much can be said about terrible owners in other sports, such as James Dolan of the Knicks, who can’t seem to get over his love affair with Isaiah Thomas. However, Dolan at least supports his team and his city and wants the best for them. Recent events have revealed an NFL owner who does not display this courtesy, in addition to ineptitude.
The TMZ release of the Ray Rice assault video has sparked outrage all around the sports world. The outrage has been directed at both the horrible, now unambiguous actions of Ray Rice and the mishandling of the situation by the NFL league offices. Much has been written and said about the situation in the last 24 hours. Not nearly enough, however, has been written about domestic violence in general. Here’s hoping this is a start.
I am an Assistant Prosecutor in my hometown, a normal Midwest town. Currently, I am assigned to the domestic violence court in my hometown. I prosecute domestic violence cases on a daily basis. It’s been an illuminating experience. I had a normal, healthy childhood. I never witnessed domestic violence in my home. So I, like most others, never realized that it is a real problem. But it is. It’s a problem that plagues every community in the country– large or small. The case of Ray Rice is a good reminder of that fact.
While every instance of domestic violence is unique to those involved in it, all domestic violence cases share similar characteristics and dynamics. Domestic violence is rarely an isolated incident. Rather, it is a series of events, both verbal and physical, which result in a cycle of violence.
Relationships mired in domestic violence generally begin small and escalate gradually. Abusers do not simply assault their partners. Abusers control their partners. Abusers use many different methods to control their partners. Money and children are among the most common methods of control. Power and control manifest themselves in many different ways, though, captured in the Power and Control Wheel created by domestic violence experts.
Abusers begin with verbal and emotional abuse. That escalates to physical violence. The physical violence escalates in degree. Eventually, the physical violence ends through either the termination of the relationship or the death of the victim. In my small Midwest hometown, there have been at least three murders in the past 12 months that are a direct result of domestic violence escalating to a fatal ending.
In between the abusive events, there are honeymoon periods. Abusers begin blaming victims for the abusive event occurring. Victims blame themselves. Abusers manipulate and intimidate victims into feeling responsible, minimizing the abuse, and ultimately recanting. I meet and speak with domestic violence victim on a near daily basis who recant and minimize the behaviors of their abusers. Victims then re-enter abusive relationships. The cycle continues. The relationship becomes increasingly dangerous.
So how does all of this tie into the Ray Rice video? Understanding the dynamics of domestic violence allows us to provide better context for individual instances of domestic violence. The Ray Rice video shows a domestic violence incident that is, in all likelihood, not an isolated incident. Rice and his fiance engage in a verbal argument outside of the elevator. From there, they enter the elevator, the doors close, and Ray Rice proceeds to punch his fiance twice in the face until she falls unconscious. Rice then allows her unconscious body to lay in the elevator until the doors open and he drags her away.
These are not actions that are characteristic of a person who lost his temper and made a mistake. These are actions indicative of a calculated abuser. Rice doesn’t impulsively hit his fiance while outside of the elevator. He waits until they are seemingly in private and seriously assaults her. He doesn’t panic and check on her well-being immediately following the assault. He is calm. He shows no remorse. He appears to know what he’s doing.
And it’s not just that Ray Rice’s assault on his fiance doesn’t appear to be an isolated incident. His situation doesn’t seem to be all that unique among NFL players. Ray McDonald was recently arrested for a suspected felony domestic violence incident. Greg Hardy was recently found guilty of assaulting his former girlfriend while threatening to kill her. These incidents, too, are not indicative of being first-time, isolated incidents.
These incidents do, however, reflect the wide-spread epidemic that is domestic violence. No one watches a football player score a touchdown and think, “You know what, I wonder if he beats his wife.” But that is the sad reality in the world in which we live. Athletes, friends and family we admire engage in these abusive relationships every day, whether it be as an abuser or a victim. And we turn a blind eye. It’s about time that changed.
The NFL has a terrific platform to contribute to that sort of change. Shift the focus off from diseases like cancer, which already have real and significant public awareness, to something like domestic violence, which is currently under-reported and under-prosecuted. The NFL doesn’t have to stop contributing to the causes it currently does. There is plenty of money to go towards other worthy causes like domestic violence awareness. Encourage domestic violence victims to report and follow through with cases. Donate to centers that provide support networks for victims of domestic violence. Correct the behavior of abusers, whether it be that of players, other employees, or fans.
Make a difference. The opportunity is there. Take it and run with it, NFL.
While we continue to put together our big board and player database, we thought we’d give you something to read by doing another mock draft based on how we adjusted our boards after the Combine. Plus, we’ve only gotten to watch more and more tape since then, so we’re starting to form more solid impressions of some players (and first impressions of others).
The three-round mock we conducted live last night, after the jump.
With the end of the regular season and time being limited to do a true player breakdown in recent weeks I did an overall view of the teams in the NFL to put together my all-pro team.
The NFL at time can be a very complex game that has many moving parts that seem to be constantly changing. We used to have John Madden giving us a very profound “BOOM” when evaluating offensive linemen and Jaws would take over a Monday Night Football broadcast by breaking down the intricacies of quarterback play. We got a taste of the zone read last year and it lead to a lot of conversation on how to stop it. The NFL is always changing and evolving.
Pete Carroll’s defensive philosophy does not have this same evolving belief. The Seahawks playoff run last year opened many eyes to cornerback Richard Sherman. Sherman has found a home with fellow CB Brandon Browner and safeties Kam Chancellor and Earl Thomas. They play in what I’m referring to(with props to our EIC Nath) as the ‘Cover 3Hawk.’
The very much publicized last minute heroics of Matthew Stafford has been shown a number of times and was even NFL Replay’s game of the night last night. But what exactly happened on that last drive that left Kris Durham wide open and Calvin Johnson what may have looked like an easy catch to take him down to the one yard line?
Monte Kiffin was hired by the Cowboys to be their Defensive Coordinator despite some red flags: He was 73 years old, and he’d been unimpressive at his last two stops at the University of Tennessee and University of Southern California. (To be fair, head coach Lane Kiffin was probably a much bigger cause of those teams’ struggles.) The Cowboys had been one of the most recognizable 3-4 teams in the league, with their man-to-man cornerbacks and a Hall of Fame player in DeMarcus Ware at Outside Linebacker. So, understandably, the move to Kiffin’s 4-3 Tampa-2 style of defense was criticized in the offseason as being a waste of personnel talent. Maybe, though, the man who invented the Tampa-2 defense and won a Super Bowl behind it still has some tricks up his sleeve. Continue reading
To a certain degree, projecting records is a little futile– so many factors go into a team’s performance level, let alone its record, and many of these are difficult to discern. Anyone who could predict things like injury and fumble luck reliably would stand to make a great deal of money doing so– there’s a reason that winning 60% of your NFL picks against the spread is basically considered the Holy Grail of sports betting. But it’s worth it to try, at least, as an intellectual exercise, something that tests your understanding of certain factors of the game, something you can analyze and look back at after the season, and determine why you were right or wrong in certain cases, and if those factors were predictable/predictive or not.
Projected AFC standings with brief writeups for each team:
Oh, Roger Goodell.
You say you’re concerned about player safety. I think you’re concerned mostly about your own image. Continue reading
Needle here. I thought it was only appropriate that for a blog called Zone Reads, I write an analysis of the Zone Read play, and how teams use it and defend against it.
So I’ve finally gotten to spend some time sitting back and enjoying the spectacle that was Robert Griffin III of 2012. After watching the film, I came to a surprising conclusion: Despite all of the greatness that RG3 showed, the biggest surprise I saw was other teams’ inability to adapt to the zone read.
I, for one, believe in the importance of scheme, and have a lot of praise for coaches who can adjust rather quickly and find weaknesses in certain schemes. For example, the Dolphins rocked the Patriots with the pseudo-single wing scheme that is known as the Wildcat. That kind of team performance had yet to be repeated– until last year, when the new breed of QBs brought the zone read to the NFL. Though I put the Wildcat single-wing and the Spread Offense Zone Read into two separate categories, the concept of using scheme to gain a man advantage in the running game is the same. With that said, I want to look at three teams’ attempts to stop this scheme.
Quick note: While I have watched Colin Kaepernick and Russell Wilson run their offense, I’m focusing solely on Griffin, as I want to keep this analysis consistent and to the point.
I started this column by picking four teams whose drafts I wanted to critique, just as in the last two posts, but as I began writing, I started to include off-season moves and recent drafts for context, and I began to notice that these organizations all seem to have some systemic problems.
I try to examine why. Not surprisingly, I think in many cases it goes back to the owners. Poor owners make poor hiring decisions, either because they don’t evaluate front-office talent well or because good front-office talent doesn’t want to work with them because of the owners’ flaws, from stinginess to excessive meddling to general incompetence.
Let’s look at how the recent moves these teams made fit into a chain of bad decision-making– and, in one case, how they could be signs of an end of an era of it. This one’s a fair bit longer than the last two…
Analysis of Round One later. Right now, no explanations, just picks (and a couple of trades):
With the draft just a few hours away, I’ve got some more film review of prospects for our readers to look over. Today we have a couple of guys who have been slowly creeping up the board and are now likely first-round picks.
I’ll roll out my final mock draft tomorrow, but I had the idea for an intellectual exercise beforehand. Since the draft always has some major surprises– some teams play it straight with the media, many more don’t– I thought I would try my best to “predict” how some of those picks might happen, where a team (or teams) values a player more highly than the draft-community consensus, or where a team has expressed no interest in a player who seems suited to the team.
Having said that, I did my best to keep players as close to their legitimate value as possible, but more importantly, I chose players whom I thought would help the team, and I’ve explained why. The only catch is that, to the best of my knowledge and research, I’ve not seen these players and teams linked anywhere else.
Read on to see what Kansas City probably won’t do with the first pick in the 2013 NFL Draft…
In this post, we’ll be looking at two potential first-round picks on defense, Missouri DT Sheldon Richardson and Kansas State LB Arthur Brown.
Working from the first round I posted earlier this week, let’s move on to round two. Round three will likely be up tomorrow.
All right, here is part two of my infinite-part series breaking down players. By request I’ll be looking at Daryl Washington from the Arizona Cardinals. I knew nothing about him, but I saw that he was a second-team All-Pro this season. I’ve broken down four plays featuring him: