After mishandling Ray Rice’s domestic violence incident two years ago, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell said “I got it wrong” and vowed “the same mistakes can never be repeated.”
It doesn’t appear the league learned its lesson.
The NFL placed kicker Josh Brown on paid leave Friday, a day after re-opening its investigation into the 2015 domestic abuse complaint against the 14-year veteran. Brown said in journal entries and emails released by police on Thursday that he repeatedly verbally and physically abused his former wife, Molly Brown.
The revelations left fans outraged because Brown received only a one-game suspension following the league’s 10-month investigation into the case.
So, the big question is this: How much did the New York Giants know and what did the NFL know about Brown’s history of abusing his ex-wife?
“You very rarely have a Ray Rice video,” Giants co-owner John Mara said in August.
Mara told WFAN radio on Thursday he was upset about the latest information.
“I am certainly disturbed by what we read,” Mara said. “He has admitted to us that he abused his wife in the past. I think what is a little unclear is the extent of that, but what we have read about is obviously disturbing.”
The league said its “investigators made repeated attempts — both orally and in writing — to obtain any and all evidence and relevant information in this case from the King County (Washington) Sheriff’s Office.”
They were denied because it was an ongoing investigation.
However, Sheriff John Urquhart told KIRO Radio in Seattle that the NFL failed to go through proper channels and the investigator didn’t identify himself as working for the league.
“At no time has the NFL ever filed a written public disclosure request for any of these files. Period. It’s never happened,” Urquhart told the station.
Goodell explained the league’s position in a BBC interview on Friday.
“You have to make decisions on whatever information you have,” Goodell said in a transcript of the London interview provided by the BBC. “We take this issue incredibly seriously. … When it happens we’re not going to tolerate it. So we have some new information here, we’ll evaluate that in the context of our policy and we’ll take it from there.”
Molly Brown did not respond to messages from The Associated Press seeking comment. A law firm representing the kicker declined to comment.
Here’s some of the information and allegations police summarized based on interviews they conducted with Molly Brown:
- Molly Brown stated that Josh Brown had been physically violent with her on more than 20 different instances over the past several years.
- Molly said she never received medical attention for any of the abuse.
- Molly said “Giants attorneys” helped the troubled couple deal with a landlord who threatened to “blackmail” them and tell the media about police being called to their apartment in Hoboken, New Jersey, two or three times in 2014-15. “They were fully aware about it and they, you know, basically did what they needed to do to make the guy go away,” she told detectives in May 2015. The Giants disputed the “blackmail incident” in August. “We think the situation … may have been a dispute that Josh had with his then-landlord in Hoboken over lease issues. During that dispute, Josh felt threatened by the landlord or her boyfriend. We advised Josh on how to resolve that issue and referred him to a lawyer to handle the matter,” the team said after Mara spoke to reporters on Aug. 23.
- Molly said Josh showed up drunk at her hotel room during the 2016 Pro Bowl week and was pounding on her door to get in the room. She called NFL and hotel security, Josh was escorted away and the NFL put Molly and her children in a different hotel room.
- Molly stated several friends of theirs, including other players in the NFL, were aware of the domestic abuse in her relationship with Josh. She said Josh even sent a personal email to several of their friends with an attached letter in March 2014 in which he admitted to being abusive to Molly.
- Molly felt the NFL had clearly given the message that no one within the league was going to do anything to help her.
- Molly feared people from the NFL and the Giants would look to pressure her into making this go away, so Josh and the team would not face any negative press.
- Molly was upfront that in her experience, the NFL publicly says it has a no-tolerance policy on domestic violence, but the reality is that it does more crisis management and looks to cover things up.