At a time when the league and the Giants are spending plenty of time trying to rationalize and justify their approach to kicker Josh Brown, who in May 2015 committed an act of domestic violence that the league didn’t deem to be sufficiently serious to suspend him for the baseline of six games (and that the team didn’t deem to be sufficiently serious to disqualify him from a new two-year contract), at least one franchise is making it clear that there is no gray area on this subject.
“I’m going to speak for the New England Patriots, and I think going back to the days of Christian Peter, we’ve been pretty stringent about it and I think ahead of the curve when it comes to the seriousness of this issue,” Patriots president Jonathan Kraft said on 98.5 The Sports Hub on Sunday, via the Boston Herald. “I don’t think there’s an issue that you could say . . . there might be some that are as serious, but there’s nothing more serious than what’s going on in the domestic violence and the sexual abuse area. It’s something that we have felt strongly about since we’ve owned the franchise.”
It’s more than the Patriots making it clear that their own employees should not engage in domestic violence or sexual abuse — or, as in the case of Christian Peter, relinquishing the rights to a draft pick after ownership became aware of his history.
“[W]e’re using the power of professional sports and our players and our brand to make sure, at the teenage level that . . . we help prevent teenage assault and abuse and hopefully start to teach young men when they’re still in their formative years that it’s something that’s totally unacceptable and it’s not something that we’re ever going to tolerate here at the New England Patriots,” Kraft said. “[W]e have taken it seriously for the 24 years we’ve owned the team. And [it] is something, for us, there literally is no gray area. It’s a very definitive and clear situation.”
True zero tolerance is a tough standard to enforce, because it means that serious consequences will apply to anyone who violates it — from coach to quarterback to any other stat player or valued employee. The Patriots apparently are willing to walk the talk; the true test will come if/when a key member of the organization faces domestic violence allegations.
The most befuddling aspect of the Josh Brown case continues to be the reality that he hardly is a key employee. While New England’s approach is the right one, it will be a challenge at times to apply it across the board. When a lax, clumsy approach is applied to a player who hardly is central to the team’s effort, the perception is reinforced that the NFL doesn’t care as much about domestic violence as it claims.