All Articles Tagged "nfl"

NFL Enforces Stronger Domestic Violence Penalties

August 29th, 2014 - By Veronica Wells
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Ray Rice publicly apologizes to his wife, Janay Palmer, for Valentine's Day assault.

Source: AP

When the NFL issued their punishment to Baltimore Ravens running back, Ray Rice, for knocking his now-wife Janay Palmer unconscious before dragging her out of an elevator, I was outraged. Rice was suspended for just two games.

I wrote that the punishment was particularly ridiculous considering violations of the league’s drug policy would result in a four game suspension. Even selling an autograph would be worth a five game suspension.

But beating a woman unconscious? Two games.

With domestic violence being the huge problem that it is, the outrage was palpable and prevalent.

Fortunately, the NFL listened.

A month after Rice’s punishment was announced, the NFL Commissioner, Roger Goodell, wrote a letter to the team owners explaining how the penalties for domestic and sexual violence will increase.

Now, the first time a player violates this policy, he will be suspended for a mandatory six games, without pay, and at least a year suspension for a second violation.

In his letter, Goodell wrote:

“At times… despite our best efforts, we fall short of our goals. We clearly did so in response to a recent incident of domestic violence. We allowed our standards to fall below where they should be and lost an important opportunity to emphasize our strong stance on a critical issue and the effective programs we have in place.”

Goodell said in the last few weeks he, along with a range of experts, team owners and representatives for the NFL Players Association, reviewed the personal conduct policy.

In addition to the suspension, if someone is charged with domestic violence or sexual assault, the player will also have to undergo a mandatory evaluation, counseling and other specialized services.

The new regulations make the NFL the league with the strongest mandatory punishment for domestic violence offenders.

Though Goodell didn’t name Rice specifically, he said that a recent punishment led people to “question our sincerity, our commitment, and whether we understood the toll that domestic violence inflicts on so many families.”

And the outrage strengthened when another player Josh Gordon was suspended for a full season for testing positive for marijuana.

Of Rice’s punishment, Goodell said, “I take responsibility both for the decision and for ensuring that our actions in the future properly reflect our values. I didn’t get it right.”

Goodell’s letter also outlined a plan for dealing with incidents of domestic violence from its players, including speedy and confidential assistance to anyone at risk of domestic violence or sexual assault, whether the person is a victim or aggressor.


MIA & The NFL Have Settled Middle Finger-Gate

August 24th, 2014 - By Tonya Garcia
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Rapper MIA performed during the Super Bowl halftime show in 2012. Two years later, there’s finally a resolution of the lawsuit that resulted from MIA’s flipping the bird during her act.

The amount and exact timing of the settlement have not been released. However, a spokesperson confirms to ESPN that a “confidential” arrangement has been reached.

There is a portion of the contract between performers and the NFL that the show will follow certain rules, and failure to do so will result in a fine. After the 2012 halftime performance — which was actually headlined by Madonna — the Federal Communications Commission received 222 complaints about middle finger display.

In the beginning, the NFL only sought $1.5 million. Unable to reach an agreement, they sued MIA for $15.1 million. MIA has been vocal throughout, tweeting about the process and saying that the players and coaches themselves have done worse and haven’t faced nearly the same amount of punishment.

Given the penalty handed down in the face of catching Ray Rice on video dragging his seemingly unconscious fiancee (now wife) out of a hotel elevator, it’s hard to deny her point. You’ll remember that Rice got a two-game suspension. Even Stephen A. Smith got a one-week suspension from ESPN for his objectionable comments about women “provoking” domestic violence after that decision came down. Word is that, just this week, the NFL only fined Cleveland Browns rookie Johnny Manziel $12,000 for giving the finger to the Washington Redskins.

The NFL is now asking acts to pay them to perform, perhaps to have the money in hand should something go awry? As we can see, the NFL doesn’t have a fixed and reasonable code of conduct, which results in these uneven penalties.

Plus, the league clearly doesn’t have its priorities straight since a middle finger is worth two years of fighting but there’s still a team that’s offensively called the Redskins in its ranks. One of the league’s own referees asked not to officiate games this team played and his request was granted. What is that? Get your house in order NFL.

Rihanna Among Those Considered For Super Bowl Halftime Show, But She’d Have To Pay To Play

August 20th, 2014 - By Tonya Garcia
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The NFL is already thinking about the next Super Bowl and, most importantly for those of us who don’t really care about football, who’s going to play the halftime show. The shortlist for next year includes Coldplay, Rihanna and Katy Perry. One thing though: If they want to play one of the biggest shows of the year, they’re going to have to pay for it.

Word is the NFL has asked those acts that they’ve contacted to perform to kick in some money to the league, though there’s no word on how much they asked for and no confirmation from the league about any negotiations. A spokesperson for the NFL specifically told The Wall Street Journal that when they have something to announce, “we’ll announce it.” The show doesn’t take place until February 1, 2015, so there’s plenty of time.

The newspaper says the acts who were told about the new plan gave it a “chilly” reception, which probably explains how it got out to the newspapers. From the NFL’s perspective, the show typically costs millions to put on and it gets tons of publicity for both the NFL and the act that performs. Last year for Bruno Mars and the Red Hot Chili Peppers, 115.3 million people tuned in. There’s also a “temporary bump,” the newspaper says, in album sales. And it could lend a hand for concert ticket sales.

However, from the act’s point of view, they know that they add cache to the event and attract viewers who, as we said, aren’t really that interested in the game. The halftime show generates talk on social media and becomes one of the talked-about highlights in the day following the big game.

Not to mention the acts they’ve narrowed it down to have enough fans on their own. Unlike the advertisers who are willing to shell out millions for a 30-second spot, Rihanna, Coldplay, and Katy Perry can — and do — generate millions on their own. Says the paper:

Ms. Perry, for example, sold 92% of the tickets to the concerts she headlined from May to July, grossing more than $36 million, according to Pollstar. Rihanna grossed $141.9 million on 90 shows around the world in 2013; Coldplay grossed $171.3 million on 67 global dates on their last tour in 2012, according to Pollstar.

As of now, there’s no word on what’s what. If we had to place a bet, we’d say that there are very few acts that would be willing to pay to headline the game and the NFL will have to back down from this request.

Your thoughts? Who would you like to see perform?

Brian Banks, Football Player Falsely Accused Of Rape, Working On A Documentary

August 8th, 2014 - By Veronica Wells
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AP Photo/Long Beach Press-Telegram, Brittany Murray

AP Photo/Long Beach Press-Telegram, Brittany Murray

Most of us remember Brian Banks, the football player who was falsely accused of rape at 16 and spent five years in prison. And even when he was released, he had to register as a sex offender and had trouble finding work.

After his exoneration, at 26, Banks decided to release a documentary describing what his life had been like for the past ten years. And he started a Kickstarter to help raise funds for the project. He ended up earning $47,000.

After two years the film is not complete because it grew far beyond Banks’ own expectations. He shared that initially he thought it would be a small project but as more and more people learned about his story, they wanted to help him. First he was trying out for NFL teams, eventually joining the Atlanta Falcons for training camp. He would go on to play in four games during last year’s NFL season.

And in the meantime, Banks has been touring the country speaking at schools, organizations and events across the country and meeting with politicians and lawmakers bringing awareness to wrongful convictions.

Most recently Banks’ documentary attracted the attention of Michele Farinola, the producer behind the Oscare winning documentary Undefeated. 

And then on top of all that good news, Lee Daniels, director of The Butler and Precious has signed on to direct a scripted feature film based on Banks’ story.

The project is currently looking for screenwriters.

It’ll be interesting to see what Daniels does with the feature film but personally I’m more interested in the documentary.

Check out the video Brian used to solicit funds for his Kickstarter.

A White Woman Didn’t Get Stephen A. Smith In Trouble; His Mouth Did

August 1st, 2014 - By Charing Ball
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Derrick Salters/

Derrick Salters/

Well we’ve finally solved the mystery of who told Harpo to beat Sophia?

It was Stephen A Smith.

No, I’m kidding. This is what he actually said in his commentary about the Ray Rice suspension (according to this transcript from The Talking Points Memo):

I think that just talking about what guys shouldn’t do, we got to also make sure that you can do your part to do whatever you can do to try to make sure it doesn’t happen … but at the same time, we also have to make sure that we learn as much as we can about elements of provocation,” he added. “Not that there’s real provocation, but the elements of provocation, you got to make sure that you address them. Because we’ve got to do is do what we can to try to prevent the situation from happening in any way. And I don’t think that’s broached enough, is all I’m saying.”

Well, I will say that Smith is pretty consistent in his victim blaming. Back in March of this year, he was the lead scout in the cavalry to save Mark Cuban, owner of the Dallas Mavericks, who believes that everybody is a little bit racist and, in particular, are scared of Black men in hoodies. I mean, it’s only natural to be, right?

Back then, he didn’t “give a damn what Black Twitter had to say and told us old time-y black folks we needed to chill because Cuban also mentioned some other prejudices he had against other “others” too. So you kind of expected him to hold the same level of ferocity when Michelle Beadle, co-host of SportsNation of ESPN 2, checked him via Twitter for his pretty foolish domestic violence victim blaming comments.

Instead he got all apologetic and accepting of his week-long suspension – even wishing the Twitterverse a heavenly “God Bless!” Now I’m not trying to say that Smith ended up looking like a flip-flopping, kowtowing shook one, but that’s what Kermit said…

And thank goodness the White woman did care enough to say something on behalf of Ray Rice’s wife, which last I’d recall was a Black woman, and check what are largely inaccuracies. A Black woman, who Smith had just got finished violating again (with his inaccuracies), after she had already been violated by her boyfriend/turned husband and by the Ravens organization in general.

Unlike what Smith believes, women needing to contemplate all they have to do “to try to prevent the situation from happening” has been “broached” before in our national dialogues around intimate partner violence – most times it has been “broached” to death In fact, these conversations about how women should go about not “provoking” our own victimizations has been drilled into the heads of little girls and women everywhere since we were old enough to be left alone with our first male relatives. We are taught about the dangers of our mini-skirts and how that is going to get us raped. We are taught about the dangers of drinking alcohol and how that is going to get us raped. We are taught to stick with friends in bright and crowded places, to avoid ponytails, buy special underwear and other anti-rape paraphernalia, scream “no” as loud and as long as we can – but not too loud because dudes hate it when you talk to much, stop dating thugs, being golddiggers and a whole host of other things, which are supposed to not “provoke” our getting raped or beat up.

The problem is that whenever we “broach” the single golden ways men can do to prevent crimes against women – and that is “don’t do it” – that’s when folks – mostly men but a few women-hating women too (I see you Whoopi), will start pulling out their Smokey the Bear-hat and reminding women again that it is up to them to prevent forest fires.

And yet in spite of all that teaching of women how to stop getting in the way of those flying fists and loose penises, the US Department of Health and Human Services, says that even to this day, between 85 to 90 percent of domestic violence victims are female. Likewise, domestic violence constitutes 22 percent of violent crime against females and 3 percent of violent crime against males. And even more startling, 70 percent of intimate homicide victims are female, and females are twice as likely to be killed by their husbands or boyfriends than murdered by strangers.

Perhaps the womenfolks are just not listening and doing enough to prevent stuff from happening to them. But according to the DHHS:

Some people believe domestic violence occurs because the victim provokes the abuser to violent action, while others believe the abuser simply has a problem managing anger. In fact, the roots of domestic violence can be attributed to a variety of cultural, social, economic, and psychological factors.49 As a learned behavior, domestic violence is modeled by individuals, institutions, and society, which may influence the perspectives of children and adults regarding its acceptability. Abusive and violent behaviors can be learned through: Childhood observations of domestic violence; One’s experience of victimization; Exposure to community, school, or peer group violence; Living in a culture of violence (e.g., violent movies or videogames, community norms, and cultural beliefs).50”

Learned behavior. The kind that says, boys will be boys. The kind that teaches our children that the onus for all violent acts against women are women themselves. The kind that would like to conflate straw man arguments about these exceptional Amazonian women capable of inflicting physical harm with her bare hands and mighty spit, who runs up on dudes and phone checking them for their manhoods than what the reality is: some of y’all got issues.

It’s funny how Smith, along with the supporters of this “provocation” doctrine as an justification for the right to abuse women, usually are eerily silent when discussions around violence against Black men happen. There was no talk about whether Black men should start hitting back when those Staten Island cops allegedly choked Eric Garner to death or how the Jersey cop killer’s widow might have had a point – none of those eye for an eye advocates dared touch that one. Funny how many of these burly tough guys, who are so easily provoked into violence at their own alleged injustice can’t be moved to “treat like men” all the knuckleheads in the community, who rape and pillage. But there are plenty of marching and pontificating behind podiums with petitions and calls to stop the violence though.

And even Smith, who never backs down from his own Bill Cosby-esque sass and provocation of the black community and Black women, suddenly submits, when his own livelihood is at stake. Now he understands self-control.


Stephen A. Smith Suspended For One Week Over Ray Rice Comments

July 29th, 2014 - By Veronica Wells
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Derrick Salters/

Derrick Salters/

Apparently, ESPN is taking a stronger stance against domestic violence than the NFL. Last week Stephen A. Smith made some pretty flagrant comments about women provoking domestic violence. After defending the comments for a while not only on his show “First Take” but also on Twitter, Smith finally felt the strong arm of the network and eventually apologized. First on Twitter and then on air.

Initially, the network said that they found his apology to be sufficient:

“We will continue to have constructive dialogue on this important topic. Stephen’s comments last Friday do not reflect our company’s point of view. As his apology demonstrates, he recognizes his mistakes and has a deeper appreciation of our company values.”

But they released this updated statement today:

“ESPN announced today that Stephen A. Smith will not appear on First Take or ESPN Radio for the next week. He will return to ESPN next Wednesday.”

I know many of you, our readers, and even some of the MN editors don’t think Smith’s comments were that offensive. That women shouldn’t put their hands on men. I certainly agree with that sentiment. No one should attack anyone else, ever but especially in the context of a relationship. I agree with Smith on that end.

But personally, I think the suspension is warranted. Given Smith’s comments about T.I. and Tiny and their drama and now this one about Ray Rice and Janay Palmer, it’s clear that his sensitivity to women’s issues is a bit off. And I don’t think it’s such a bad idea that he sit on the bench for a minute and think about the gravity of his words. I don’t believe they have a place in this particular discussion. Not only is the notion that Palmer hit Rice all speculation–because there’s no footage of her hitting him– it sends the very dangerous message that a man can somehow be justly provoked to knock a woman unconscious and drag her body around like a piece of trash.

Janay Palmer Allegedly Asked NFL To Go Easy On Ray Rice, Hence The Light Suspension

July 29th, 2014 - By Jazmine Denise Rogers
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Source: AP

Source: AP

Last week, we told you about the National Football League’s decision to suspend Baltimore Ravens star Ray Rice for two games behind the Valentine’s Day domestic violence incident involving his wife, Janay Palmer Rice. Naturally, people (including us) were pretty outraged by the little slap-on-the-wrist penalty issued to Ray, despite the troubled athlete being caught on video dragging an unconscious Janay out of a hotel elevator on the night of the incident.

The athletic league, however, is standing by their decision. The league’s Senior Vice President of Labor Policy, Adolpho Birch, called in to ESPN radio yesterday morning and he pretty much defended the two-game suspension.

“Listen, I think if you are any player and you think that based on this decision that it’s OK to go out and commit that kind of conduct, I think that is something that I would suggest to you that no player is going to go out and do that,” he warned.

Adolpho went on to reason that Ray’s suspension sends a solid message that the NFL does not condone violence.

“So in terms of sending a message about what the league stands for, we’ve done that. We can talk about the degree of discipline, we can talk about whether or not third parties need to be involved. I would suggest to you that a third party has been involved in this matter and that was the court that reviewed it, the prosecutor that reviewed it.”

He continued:

“But if it is a question about what the principle of the league is and what standards we stand by, that cannot be questioned. I think it is absolutely clear to all involved that the NFL does not condone domestic violence in any way and will not tolerate it in our league. I don’t know how you can reach a conclusion other than that although I certainly respect the opinion.”

“The discipline that was taken by the NFL is the only discipline that occurred, with respect to Mr. Rice, in this case. I think that, were he not an NFL player, I don’t know that he would be able to receive any punishment from any other source.”

Finally, Adolpho stated that after reviewing the facts, it was concluded that a two-game suspension was appropriate.

“On balance, we reviewed all the materials, listened to the persons we listened to, took the input of the Players Association. When we looked on balance at all of that, we believe that discipline we issued is appropriate. It is multiple games and hundreds of thousands of dollars. I think that’s fair to say that doesn’t reflect that you condone the behavior. I think we can put that to rest.”

Interestingly, recent reports allege that Janay actually pleaded with NFL commissioner Roger Goodell to go easy on her husband. At least that’s what a source told MMQB‘s Peter King. According to the source, Janay pleaded with Roger at a June 16th hearing in New York, stating that the elevator incident was a one-time occurrence and that it was the first and only time there was a physical altercation in their relationship.

Listen to Adolpho’s explanation on the next page.

The NFL Doesn’t Care About Black Women, Suspends Ray Rice 2 Games For Assault Against Janay Palmer

July 25th, 2014 - By Veronica Wells
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Apparently, the NFL doesn’t take issues of documented domestic violence too seriously. Ray Rice of the Baltimore Ravens, the running back who dragged his then-fiancee (now wife) Janay Palmer, out of an elevator unconscious in Atlantic City, will only be suspended for two games.

The punishment is a result of Rice violating the league’s personal conduct policy.

In a statement, released by the Ravens, Rice said:

It is disappointing that I will not be with my teammates for the first two games of the season, but that’s my fault. As I said earlier, I failed in many ways. But, Janay and I have learned from this. We have become better as a couple and as parents. I am better because of everything we have experienced since that night. The counseling has helped tremendously. My goal is to earn back the trust of the people, especially the children, I let down because of this incident. I am a role model and I take that responsibility seriously. My actions going forward will show that.”

Ravens general manager, Ozzie Newsome called the ruling “fair” and added,

That night was not typical of the Ray Rice we know and respect. We believe that he will not let that one night define who he is, and he is determined to make sure something like this never happens again.” 

Rice is currently enrolled in a program for first-time offenders that includes family counseling and will also clear his record of criminal charges if he meets all the conditions.

Can we agree that this “punishment,” if you can even call it that, is completely unacceptable and sends a terrible message on behalf of the NFL?

As USA Today Maggie Hendricks noted, far lesser offenses receive stronger punishments. Repeat offenders who violate a drug policy will be suspended for four games. A violent tackle will get you kicked out of one game. And if you haven’t quite made it to the NFL yet, selling your autograph while in college will get you “sat down” for five games.

But apparently, proof of you beating your fiancee and the mother of your child unconscious and then dragging her out of a public elevator like she’s a piece of trash is only worth two games.

This is not even just about Ray Rice anymore. When 1 in 3 women will be abused throughout the course of her lifetime, often by a member of her own family, it’s a problem not unique to Rice. We’ve seen it play out far too many times just in recent months with other celebrities beating their girlfriends, wives or fiancees. I believe in redemption and all that and the counseling might actually be working for him. But a part of learning the lesson is being adequately punished. And a two game suspension is more or less an extended time out. It’s not good enough for Rice, it’s not good enough for the other women who suffered like Janay but didn’t have their abuse recorded and broadcast and it’s not good enough for the young boys who will grow up thinking this wasn’t “that big of a deal.”

With this puny suspension, the NFL proves that they don’t really take violence against women seriously. I know you’ve heard the comparisons drawn thousands of times by now, but Michael Vick was practically stoned in the town square for allowing his friends to use his property for dog fights. I love dogs and dog fighting is wrong but I value the lives of women far more than dogs. Sorry, not sorry.

The only message this punishment sends is that violence against women can be forgiven with a press conference, pathetic statement and a two game suspension.

As Hendricks writes to the NFL: “Don’t tell me you care about women’s health come October. Don’t pink wash the whole league and pay lip service to how much you care about women. Don’t trot out breast cancer survivors as symbols of the NFL’s close relationship with women and then give a man who threatened a woman’s health–ON TAPE– a two game suspension.” 


The NFL is about money. And they know the majority of their revenue is tied to public perception of their image. Sadly, the league got the message that men, their target audience and demographic, wouldn’t care one way or another what happened to Palmer, a Black woman, that night. And they subsequently didn’t care about the consequences Rice, the perpetrator of the violence, faced as a result.

Yes, the NFL dropped the ball. But really, their decision is just a clear indicator of just how much the whole country (and various parts of the world) really value women and their well-being. If you didn’t get the message, ladies, your life and well-being are worth two football games.

Evening Eye Candy: NFL First Round Draft Pick And New York Giant, Odell Beckham, Jr.

May 9th, 2014 - By Victoria Uwumarogie
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Odell Beckham, Jr.


Get to know cutie Odell Beckham, Jr. The former LSU Tiger’s talent is so stellar, he broke the LSU single-season all-purpose yards record and was just picked (like last night) as a first round draft pick heading to New York City to play for the Giants. First Victor Cruz, now Beckham. It’s going to be too many fine men on that team to stay concentrated on whatever they’re doing on the field! But aside from his good looks, Beckham seems to be a guy who puts family first. He’s often found lauding his mom (who was an All-American sprinter at LSU back in the day) on social media, and followed in his dad’s footsteps (his father was a running back for LSU back in the day). And did we mention that he is quite the stylish fella? 

Get to know more about this 5’11′, 198-pound hunk of a man in our gallery.

Bring It On! Professional Cheerleaders Sue NFL For Low Pay

May 8th, 2014 - By Kimberly Gedeon
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via @JetsFlightCrew

via @JetsFlightCrew

Football fans love professional cheerleaders — their basket tosses, scantily-clad outfits, and rambunctious chants make the crowd go wild. Behind the pom-poms and cheers, however, are a group of frustrated women lashing out at the National Football League claiming they were skimped of proper wages.

The New York Jets are now the fourth NFL team, according to Reuters, to get wrapped in a lawsuit due to alleged wage theft and other labor law offenses. On behalf of her squad, former cheerleader Krystal C. sued the Jets; she claims that the league did not pay her for attending rehearsals, practices, and promotional appearances during her time on the “Flight Crew,” from June 2012 to December 2013.

“The suit alleges cheerleaders were paid $150 on each game day and $100 for outside appearances. They were not reimbursed for expenses, or appearance-related mandates such as straightening curly hair on game day,” ESPN New York reports.

For instance, the suit alleges that for “Meet and Greet Day,” the Flight Crew squad worked for three hours without pay. The cheerleaders are also required to practice at home which adds up to another five to 10 hours of unpaid work per week, Think Progress says.

Krystal C., who filed the complaint in Bergen County, New Jersey, received only $1,800 in pay for the entire season. “When you look at the actual hours worked versus what Krystal C. was paid, she only made $3.77 per hour,” said Patricia Pierce, her attorney.

In New Jersey, where the Jets are based, the current minimum wage is $8.25.

The pay drops if you consider the “motivational gift” she was required to give to each member of the 40-woman squad. (Krystal C. spent $80 on homemade picture frames.) And let’s not forget the $45 a week she spent on straightening her hair, a mandatory rule for Flight Crew cheerleaders.

“It’s like you end up virtually paying them for the privilege of being a cheerleader,” Pierce told Los Angeles Times. “The failure to pay the women who work as cheerleaders a legal wage for all the hours that they work is clearly an NFL-wide problem that needs to change.”

Krystal C. told Reuters that she felt empowered to file the lawsuit after seeing a wave of other cheerleading squads pursuing similar legal action. Since January, cheerleaders from the Oakland Raiders, the Cincinnati Bengals, and the Buffalo Bills have launched lawsuits against the NFL. The Raidettes and the Ben-Gals allege that their pay is as low as $5 and $2.85 an hour, respectively, Reuters says.

“There has been some talk of organizing a national cheer association as a result of these lawsuits, and that is a possibility,” said Mac Panepinto, the lawyer representing the Buffalo cheerleaders.