At a time when the NFL remains embroiled in controversy over whether and to what extent the Ravens and the league office tried to cover up a domestic violence incident involving Ray Rice, a former General Manager claims that cover ups were the norm. And the team for which he worked obviously denies that.
Former Bears G.M. Jerry Angelo tells Josh Peter of USA Today that NFL teams did not impose discipline after “hundreds and hundreds” of domestic violence incidents.
“I made a mistake,” Angelo said. “I was human. I was part of it. I’m not proud of it.”
A mistake would be one cover up. Multiple cover ups reflect a pattern of deliberate wrongdoing. Angelo admits he engaged in that behavior. He contends other teams did, too.
Angelo also explained the approach that the Bears used when a player was accused of domestic violence. It consisted of one basic inquiry.
“OK, is everybody OK?” Angelo said. “Yeah. How are they doing? Good. And then we’d just move on. We’d move on. . . .
“We knew it was wrong,” Angelo added. “For whatever reason, it just kind of got glossed over. I’m no psychiatrist, so I can’t really get into what that part of it is. I’m just telling you how I was. I’ve got to look at myself first. And I was part of that, but I didn’t stand alone.”
The Bears issued a statement disputing Angelo’s claims.
“We were surprised by Jerry’s comments and do not know what he is referring to,” the Bears said.
In contrast, former Bears defensive tackle Tank Johnson told USA Today that he’s aware of domestic violence incidents that did not result in punishment.
Angelo’s contention raises plenty of questions. Did team security intervene before police were called? Did teams actively attempt to persuade the victims in such cases to not call the police? Were police aware of the situation, and in any way complicit in the cover ups?
Angelo explained that he kept the situations quiet because he knew that discipline issued by the league against the players involved would have created a competitive disadvantage. His contention should prompt a full and complete investigation into whether and to what extent the Bears and other teams engaged in the behavior on which Angelo has blown the whistle. Allegations like Angelo’s can’t be ignored in the same way he claims the domestic violence incidents were.
Angelo has been out of the NFL for nearly three years. He has tried to get back in, most recently with the Jets in 2013. The only thing that’s certain about his decision to come clean is that it’ll now be even harder for him to secure employment with an NFL team.
Especially if he’s in any way exaggerating or embellishing the notion that “hundreds and hundreds” of domestic violence incidents were covered up.