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#MeToo: The NFL’s Legacy of Silencing Abused Women

Last Monday, NFL player Carl Nassib revealed to his social media followers that he was gay.

According to Wikipedia, only six former NFL players came out as gay publicly but only after they retired from the league. Michael Sam was selected by the St. Louis Rams (R.I.P.) In the 2014 NFL Draft, and he became the first publicly gay player drafted in the league. Unfortunately, he was released before the start of the regular season.

Carl Nassib became the first openly gay active NFL player.

I can’t wait until announcing who somebody chooses to fuck isn’t news. But, until then, let’s celebrate the progress.

We have to start somewhere.

After his announcement, the NFL and Carl Nassib each donated $100,000 to the Trevor Project, which provides crisis intervention and suicide prevention services to LGBQT people under the age of 25, according to their website. The Trevor Project told People.com “they’ve seen a 100% increase in online donations since Nassib’s announcement.”

NFL fans and LGBQT supporters rushed to purchase Carl Nassib jerseys. He had the number one selling NFL jersey for over twenty-four hours.

Wow!

This should feel amazing, right?

All that outpouring for a man who declared he likes men in a league full of heterosexual men? It’s a giant leap forward of gay acceptance. That, and Carl Nassib’s announcement, caused a lot of money to funnel into LGBQT youth and suicide prevention.

That’s a big deal.

And should rightfully be celebrated.

A week later, the NFL tweeted out a video, and declared “the NFL is gay.”

It’s a great video. Inspiring message. It feels hopeful. Very inclusive.

The media and reporters ate it up.

Advocates rejoiced.

And like the NFL says, Carl Nassib, and any gay man has the right to be openly gay in the NFL and anywhere. Hell, anyone that identifies as a LGBQT has the right to be themselves, no matter what you think about them.

And the NFL did a good thing here, and their actions have the potential to change a lot of people’s lives by giving people the freedom to be themselves.

The pro-LGBQT ad reads:

“Football is gay. Football is lesbian. Football is beautiful. Football is queer. Football is life. Football is exciting. Football is culture. Football is transgender. Football is queer. Football is heart. Football is power. Football is tough. Football is bisexual. Football is strong. Football is freedom. Football is American. Football is accepting. Football is everything. Football is for everyone.”

But caught in this ad campaign is a huge lie.

Football isn’t for everyone.

The NFL certainly isn’t a place for women.

And that has nothing to do with the lack of female players, coaches, refs or executives.

Three days after declaring that, and I quote from the NFL, “Football is for everyone” outlets around the country reported the Washington Football Team had been fined $10 million after an investigation into the team’s workplace culture.

The NFL, in just three days, went from accepting of all and an organization of inclusivity back to the good ole’ boys club.

Spoiler.

It always was, and will always be, a good ole’ boys club.

Here’s what the ESPN reported about the investigation into the Washington Football Team’s toxic work environment and the ten-million-dollar fine that followed:

“All senior executives, including the Snyders (the NFL team’s owners) will take part in training in workplace conduct, covering topics such as bullying, diversity and inclusion, LGBQT+ issues, microaggression and unconscious bias.”

Well, that’s a broad and vague statement.

What did the Washington Football Team senior executives do wrong?

Well, In February 2021, the team reached a settlement with its former cheerleaders, who appeared topless in videos made without their knowledge during swimsuit calendar photo shoots in 2008 and 2010. The team no longer has any cheerleaders and has used a rebrand for the excuse as why not.

One staffer claimed the videos were made for the team owner, Dan Snyder. I mean, he pays the beautiful women to cheerlead and since he does, they better make topless cheerleading videos for him.

But that was a separate investigation.

Settled outside of court.

With no lawsuits filed.

In 2014, Dan Snyder got caught selling expired beer to his football team’s fans.

in 2006, the team was dinged for selling peanuts acquired from an airline that had gone bankrupt a year earlier.

I wonder if those “business practices” from a billionaire were included in this new investigation that led to the ten-million-dollar fine, the largest-ever in the NFL’s history.

In this recent investigation, Beth Wilkinson, who was hired to find the misconduct of Washington Football Team executives including sexual harassment, spent over a year interviewing more than one hundred and fifty people involved with the Washington Football Team. Here’s the kicker, Beth Wilkinson was selected to investigate the Washington Football Team by… you guessed it, the Washington Football Team executives!

How much investigating would someone do when their paycheck is coming from the people you’ve been hired to investigate?

I don’t know about you, but that seems like a toxic work environment.

Or a conflict of interest.

The NFL listened to Beth Wilkinson’s findings and decided that “for many years the workplace environment at the Washington Football Team, both generally and particularly for women, was highly unprofessional. Bullying and intimidation frequently took place, and many described the culture as one of fear, and numerous female employees reported having experienced sexual harassment and a general lack of respect in the workplace.”

So, a bunch of rich, white dudes with power took advantage of women in the workplace.

How did they do it?

Here’s what the NFL further clarified:

“Ownership and senior management (of the Washington Football Team) paid little or no attention to these issues,” the announcement stated. “In some instances, senior executives engaged in inappropriate conduct themselves, including use of demeaning language and public embarrassment. This set the tone for the organization and led to key executives believing that disrespectful behavior and more serious misconduct was acceptable in the workplace. The problems were compounded by inadequate HR staff and practices and the absence of an effectively and consistently administered process for reporting or addressing employee complaints, as well as a widely reported fear of retaliation. When reports were made, they were generally not investigated and led to no meaningful discipline or other response.”

The Washington Football Team refused to investigate any complaint to the fullest extent, or at all. People also kept their mouths shut when they saw messed up shit so they wouldn’t be made an example of by the bullies (the senior executive billionaire bosses).

Lisa Friel, the NFL’s special counsel for investigations, spoke to the media on July 1 to discuss the findings of the investigation and the reason for the NFL’s fine of the Washington Football Team. Lisa Friel told the press that there will be no written report detailing exactly what went on in the Washington Football team organization. The investigation was relayed by word of mouth from Beth Wilkinson, the investigator, to NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell and his selected executives during a meeting, who then decided on the punishment.

The largest fine in NFL history and no written documentation of what transpired. Only an oral report from Beth Wilkinson to Roger Goodell and his cronies.

Lisa Banks and Debra Katz, who represent forty former Washington Football Team employees, said about the investigation and lack of a transparency:

“This is truly outrageous and is a slap in the face to the hundreds of women and former employees who came forward in good faith and at great personal risk to report a culture of abuse at all levels of the Team, including by Snyder himself,” their statement said. “The NFL has effectively told survivors in this country and around the world that it does not care about them or credit their experiences. Female fans, and fans of goodwill everywhere, take note.”

Here’s what the NFL commented about the penalties and lack of transparency:

The league will not speak to individual allegations and says it’s important to protect the confidentiality of those who spoke.

Yikes.

The good ole’ confidentiality lie.

Protecting the identity of the victims.

Is it the victims who are being protected here?

Because it kinda feels like the opposite.

Dan Snyder isn’t the only owner who commits vile acts of sexism in the NFL workplace.

In 2018, the NFL fined former Carolina Panthers owner Jerry Richardson $2.75 million for his actions in the Carolina Panthers team offices.

What did the NFL do with that $2.75 million in collected in fines?

The NFL claimed it was used “support organizations addressing race and gender-based issues and fund league-wide workplace training.”

I wonder if that $2.75 million is being used to fund the trainings at the Washington Football Team’s workplace misconduct meetings?

As for Jerry Richardson, once the investigation started, he began the process of selling his team, which he did months later for $2.2 billion.

Only a $2.75 million fine to objectify women and use a racial slur in the office?

Chump change when you have $2.2 billion coming in.

But I guess I’m not counting the “significant” monetary settlements Jerry Richardson made with former employees “due to inappropriate workplace comments and conduct including sexually suggestive language and behavior, and on at least one occasion directing a racial slur at an African American Panthers scout.”

The report also states Jerry Richardson made women spin around every Friday Jeans Day, so he could “admire their backside” and ask them if they wiggled their ass or had to lay down to squeeze in their jeans.

I hope my daughter gets an NFL job someday.

But even more alarming, the fact the NFL showed transparency in this case, but not in the recent Washington Football Team investigation.

Why?

Is it because Jerry Richardson sold the team and was no longer in the NFL?

Or is it because the Washington Football Team’s executives committed even more heinous crimes?

We’ll never know.

Don’t worry, in the office isn’t the only place rich, old, billionaire NFL owners ruin the lives of women.

In 2019, New England Patriot owner Robert Kraft was arrested on two counts of soliciting sex at a Florida massage parlor.

A misdemeanor which could mean up to 60 days in jail, a fine of up to $500 or both. I’m sure if Robert Kraft threw some extra cash in the pile, he’d never serve a second in jail with some bullshit plea deal.

But Robert Kraft refused to allow his reputation to be ruined. I mean, getting a fifty-dollar massage at a strip-mall massage parlor seems like a normal activity for a billionaire, not someone looking for a happy ending.

Here’s a headline on how the saga ended: Florida Masseuse Ordered to Pay $31,573 After ‘Soliciting’ Robert Kraft To ‘Commit Prostitution’

That’s right.

Innocent victim, Robert Kraft used his excess millions to get off after committing a misdemeanor sex crime. On more than one occasion. Allegedly. Hell, his expensive attorneys were so good, that not only did they get evidence (video of Robert Kraft being jerked off by women and him being identified at his traffic stop) thrown out or destroyed, but they also managed to get the masseuse who made a rich billionaire orgasm pay more than $31,000 in fines for soliciting prostitution to the helpless New England Patriots owner. She served time in jail, too. Two other women from the spa were fined and served time in jail for an additional $14,000 combined.

Florida state attorney Dave Aronberg, who filed the charges against Robert Kraft and two dozen other men arrested in the botch sex sting operation, said he agreed with the attorney general’s decision to dismiss the case after a string of court losses because “there was no way to successfully continue trying the cases without video evidence, and that receipts and other evidence were not sufficient.”

Robert Kraft plead not guilty to a crime he committed and got off because he had a shitload of money and used a technicality. U.S. Courts ruled that hidden camera placed in the massage parlor violated the rights of the men getting handjobs. The video of him getting jerked off was destroyed. He did the crime but didn’t have to do any time.

Well, at least he helped a dozen men get off with no punishment, right?

And how did the NFL punish Robert Kraft?

They didn’t.

No one did.

Or ever will.

Now, maybe we should give the NFL the benefit of the doubt. I mean, the NFL raised a lot of money for the LGBQT community the past few weeks.

Should we really be that upset about a few women being mistreated by NFL owners?

We should be marching in the fucking streets.

Wasn’t the entire purpose of the #MeToo movement to stop this type of abuse?

Wasn’t the #MeToo movement built to prevent toxic work environments and give victims of abuse a voice?

Women, especially?

The NFL doesn’t think so.

And it never has.

And never will.

In 2014, Ray Rice cold-cocked his girlfriend in an Atlantic City elevator, knocking her out. The NFL suspended Ray Rice for two games after “investigating” the incident. After the penalty was announced, someone leaked security footage from the casino, which showed the footage of Ray Rice’s assault. The Baltimore Ravens cut him immediately, and the NFL Commissioner suspended him indefinitely. Both the league and team claimed they never saw the footage before it released publicly.

Ray Rice never played a down in the NFL again.

And rightfully so.

You want to know a real feminist?

Whoever released the security footage of Ray Rice punching his lover unconscious. Because if whoever did, didn’t, Ray Rice would have only missed two NFL games.

The NFL claimed it never saw the video of Ray Rice assaulting his girlfriend before it leaked, and the NFL even hired former FBI Director Robert Mueller (yeah, that fucking guy) to investigate the NFL’s investigation of Ray Rice hitting his then-girlfriend. Robert Mueller confirmed the NFL never saw the security footage before it was released publicly, but here’s what his report did say:

“League investigators did not contact any of the police officers who investigated the incident, the Atlantic County Prosecutor’s Office, or the Revel [casino] to attempt to obtain or view the in-elevator video or to obtain other information. No one from the League asked Rice or his lawyer whether they would make available for viewing the in-elevator video they received as part of criminal discovery in early April. And, after the initial contacts with the Ravens in the immediate aftermath of the incident, League investigators did not follow up with the Ravens to determine whether the team had additional information.”

Not asking for further information is a form of suppression.

The NFL has a history of protecting its employees after abuses against women. These are just a few recent incidents. How many cases were swept under the rug over the years by the league?

We’ll never know.

Even still, there are NFL players in the league today who have been accused, convicted or reached settlement in and outside of court regarding sexist crimes against women.

Maybe I should make a list of every NFL employee who’s abused women.

Fuck.

Who even has that much time?

If you really want to see how much the NFL cares about women, look into the NFL’s Crucial Catch program.

Starting in October 2009, the NFL created the Crucial Catch program to raise money and awareness for breast cancer research. Players wore pink accessories, the NFL made pink jerseys and women specific clothing and men’s gear with all sales of the pink merchandise going to the America Cancer Society, specifically, breast cancer research.

Fucking awesome, right?

Nope.

Business Insider reported in 2014, that only 8.01% of money spent on pink NFL merchandise is actually going towards cancer research.

Where’s the rest of the money going?

It should be obvious by this point.

And as for the American Cancer Society’s eight percent cut?

“The money that we receive from NFL has nothing to do with our research program,” American Cancer Society spokeswoman Tara Peters told VICE Sports in 2014.

“All NFL donations go to ACS’ CHANGE program, through which the organization awards grants to “community-based health facilities” located within 100 miles of an NFL city for educating women about breast health. The ACS could not provide the names of any of these health facilities, but it says that these centers have answered questions about early detection of the disease for at least 72,000 women in the last three years and screened 10,000 women at little or no cost.”

I originally had a snarky line here, but instead I’ll say what you should be thinking:

Fuck you, NFL.

But hey, the Crucial Catch lie was in 2014. Things change. People evolve. Organizations grow. Since then, the NFL rebranded the Crucial Catch initiative to include all forms of cancer. All inclusive. This was only after the press exposed them for their greed. And for not being transparent about the initiative with the public.

Hmm.

Sounds familiar.

Today, the NFL states on its Crucial Catch website, “Since its establishment in 2009, the NFL’s Crucial Catch campaign has raised over $22 million for the American Cancer Society.”

Is that $22 million in total donations to the American Cancer Society or is that $22 million the eight percent of the money raised from the NFL’s Crucial Catch program?

Since they’re not tax exempt anymore, which is a good thing, the NFL doesn’t have to disclose that information. They don’t have to disclose Roger Goodell’s salary either, which I guesstimate is around $50 million a year.

Hence, the NFL is doing what it always does.

And what it always will do.

Protecting the shield and maximizing profits.

Above all else.

Now, I’m not saying to stop watching the NFL. I know an impossible ask when I see one. But, I mean, you should really stop watching, but the NFL is a religion for many. I understand it.

It was for me.

I play three fantasy leagues, gamble on NFL games on my phone, spend time with friends and family watching NFL football on every day that it’s on, and drink beer and order food from local restaurants as I enjoy NFL RedZone, the greatest football channel ever created.

Lincoln Financial Field is my happy place.

Well, most of the time.

Singing “Fly, Eagles Fly” with thousands of other drunk and happy Eagles fans?

I call that a slice of heaven.

Hell.

I cried when the Birds won the Super Bowl.

That’s a lot to give up.

And for some people it’s even more.

The die hards.

The tailgaters.

The season ticket holders.

The fans who have entire basements and rooms dedicated to their favorite team.

The fans who pass their fandom from parent to child generation after generation.

It’s a spiritual practice for some.

The NFL has led to some of the best moments of my life with people I’ll never forget and always love.

The NFL has done a lot of good and in the case with Carl Nassib, gave a voice to the oppressed.

But that’s all the NFL ever does.

Good.

Just enough.

Let’s wrap it up by finishing the Carl Nassib story with this recent NFL history in mind.

According to Action Network (fuck off, I was too lazy for another source), “Fanatics spokesman Brandon Williams said the company could not disclose specific numbers, but that more jerseys were sold of Nassib’s in a day than the amount of jerseys sold of the No. 2 best seller, new Chicago Bears quarterback Justin Fields, that were sold in the last two days.”

Wait.

How much did the NFL profit off of a man coming out of the closet?

Jersey sales puts money in the rich billionaire NFL team owners’ pockets. Like Daniel Snyder, Jerry Richardson, Robert Kraft, and those who allow their NFL owner peers’ rampant abuse of women . Oh, and that’s right, the NFL is made up of old, frigid rich white dudes that call themselves owners.

Words matter.

The NFL should donate 100% of the Carl Nassib jersey sales to the Trevor Project.

That is, if they disclose the amount of money they made on his jersey sales from him coming out.

They won’t.

The positive actions of the NFL and Carl Nassib should be celebrated and not overlooked but buying Carl Nassib NFL jerseys is misplaced support.

Maybe the next time a player comes out or supports a cause you like, don’t buy an NFL- jersey of an NFL licensed product. Donate to the player’s charity, all athletes have charities nowadays or lend their support to one. Most charities make hats and shirts that you can buy if you’re one of those people who needs physical proof of your support.

If you want to take it a step further, commit to spending a Sunday, one you would normally watch football, with your mother, grandmother, sister, wife, girlfriend, friend that’s a girl or anyone special in your life that’s female. And when you’re hanging out with them, let them talk about whatever they want, even if it bores you. You do that, and you already treat women better than the NFL.

And just like Carl Nassib, I guess we have to start somewhere.

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