Mike Ditka says NFL execs should ‘shut up’ about their past wrongs condoning domestic violence. Michael Stilley says we need to stop hiding the truth.
A male and female, with the appearance of an arguing couple, enter the view of a surveillance camera. Once the doors close, it begins.
The man approaches the woman hastily, and spits in her face. As the woman approaches the male to confront him, he won’t allow it, striking a vicious hook to the temple area of his partner, his fiancé, and his victim.
A punch so violent, the victim looked as if she had lost consciousness on impact prior to the opposite side of her head colliding with a protruding arm rail. The only fortunate part for the victim, sadly, is that she has been beaten in public. The humiliation of cameras catching every moment, those doors will reopen to the public, and her attacker is a well-known athlete.
She won’t know that yet, though, until her fiancé is kind enough to drag her unconscious body from that brief Hell into a hotel lobby of embarrassment, confusion, and inevitable pain physically, and emotionally.
By this time, we have all seen the now infamous Ray and Janay Rice video from inside the elevator. After a variety of reactions to the video, many people, including myself, wondered; “what did people think happened when they saw the prior video?”
Regardless of any one’s reaction, it has brought attention to what has been a longstanding issue in not only the NFL culture, but also society in general. Just ask Rog “the dodge” Goodell who has taken every opportunity in his few public appearances, since the public embarrassment of his failings, to let us all know that it’s not an NFL problem that it can “fight by itself”, and how they “need help”.
As much as I don’t like him taking the “it’s not us alone” approach to an issue he has clearly ducked, and is only now involved in after the most damaging evidence of his complacency toward a problem that has long plagued the league he is supposedly responsible for, I have to admit, he’s correct.
In a October 9th interview with USA Today, Jerry Angelo admitted he believed “hundreds” of players involved in domestic violence went unpunished over his 30 years with several clubs in the NFL, most notably from 2001-2011 as the Bears General Manager.
That afternoon, while in a radio interview Chicago icon, 74 year old Mike Ditka, chastised Angelo for his comments calling them “gutless” and “If you didn’t do anything while you were running the team, then shut up. Don’t live in the past.”
During an October 10th interview with Comcast Sports Net Chicago, Jerry Angelo backtracked, wilting under pressure from the same group that provided him a nice living, and who turned a blind eye towards the very issues, in which he and other executives were complicit. He said his words were “twisted” and “taken out of context”.
Jerry Angelo made the statements, “we knew it was wrong” and “I made a mistake”, for a reason. He hasn’t been part of the Bears or any other organization since January of 2012. It served no benefit except to continue spreading light on what Ditka and most others very obviously would have like to have kept in the dark. He took the opportunity of the current situation to try to help expose what has been the standard of the NFL; protect the shield by appearance, no matter the facts.
Jerry Angelo made an attempt to do what so many domestic violence victims are afraid to do; speak up. In the exact same manner that society has told so many others, he was told; keep quiet. It stays in house, where it can be controlled, and monitored.
During his tenure as GM, Bears players were arrested for eight DUI’s, three assaults, three drug charges, two gun violations, two reckless driving, one theft, one battery, one court order violation, and zero arrests for domestic violence. During that same span, 63 NFL players were arrested for Domestic Violence, zero Bears. So, either way, he’s correct.
It’s either remarkable that 63 domestic violence arrests were made, none of them Bears, or he did a fantastic job of “for whatever reason, it kind of just got glossed over”.
The statistics on domestic violence are staggering. One in four women will experience domestic violence in their lifetime. Over six million children witness domestic violence annually. That includes as many as 960,000 incidents per year and most notably, the majority of incidents go unreported, the same way it has been for the NFL according to one former executive until, just like society, he was shamed and pressured into retracting his statements.
At least he didn’t claim he fell down the stairs and into a confusing interview. If there were 63 incidents in the NFL during his Bears tenure, and most incidents go unreported, and he admitted to “hundreds”, it begs the question; how many were there, and are there today?
In this age, the only difference change can and will be made is with exposure. Difficult issues require difficult actions. Standing idly by will accomplish nothing. A well-known NFL coach once said; “you get what you accept” and I agree. Being his own words, I now wonder what it is Mike Ditka accepts.
So, instead of using his opportunity to acknowledge and act on what surely weighed on his conscious after viewing a beating, in a climate, which he wanted to admit he helped perpetrate, Jerry Angelo, too cowered to pressure. Mike Ditka playing the part of the classic older “mans, man” who would rather keep all the skeletons in closet where they can remain unaddressed or dealt with behind closed doors.
Fortunately for Janay Rice, those doors reopened.
If you see, hear, hear of, suspect, or know of Domestic Violence issues, use the many resources for help. Under no circumstances should we listen to Mike Ditka’s advice to “shut up”, make a change, and speak up.
Photo: Flickr/ TheeErin