The enormous flaw in Commissioner Accountability’s plan for the NFL to crack down on domestic violence is now in the league’s display case with Dallas Cowboys running back Joseph Randle.
As is so often the case in instances of domestic violence, this comes down to whom do you believe and one defines it. Specifically, do verbal threats qualify as domestic assault?
The Cowboys running back, who is not exactly awash in credibility these days, is alleged to have threatened an ex-girlfriend during a recent altercation in Wichita, Kansas. According to the police reports, Randle allegedly made verbal threats against the ex-girlfriend, with whom he has a son. There is no report of physical assault. Randle’s attorney denies that his client made any verbal threats.
During this incident, Randle was busted for possession of less than one ounce of weed. The charge was dropped.
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Translation - this thing is a giant mess.
If, somehow, the NFL finds Randle guilty of domestic violence he could face a six-game suspension. Given what has been reported about this incident, that is not likely to happen. This is not Ray Rice; there is no video tape the league can’t find ... or at least TMZ has yet to release it.
The Cowboys do not have to dump this guy, at least not yet. If new evidence is released that he hit her, that’s a different matter. The smartest thing for the Cowboys to do is just wait.
What this is is another example of Randle not being smart; it was just a few months ago he was busted for shoplifting boxer shorts and cologne from a Dillards in DFW. Dude - take it easy, and try to do nothing for a while. For a guy who could potentially “Be the guy” to replace DeMarco Murray as this team’s featured back, Randle continues to update The Jo Randle Blog on How To Blow It.
What this also is is the dicey side of trying to impose a black-and-white penalty on a serious infraction that is loaded with grays. These incidents often have no neutral witnesses, or evidence beyond verbal claims from potential angry defendants who will use whatever leverage necessary for financial gain, or revenge.
When NFL boss Roger Goodell slapped duct tape on this issue after the Ray Rice fiasco with an exact penalty it was a lame PR move that did not acknowledge the inherent flaw in the plan. Domestic violence is not Deflategate, it is not endemic to the NFL, but putting a one-size-fits-all penalty on this type of crime is dangerously dumb.
A potential crime of this nature and scale requires far more thought and consideration than some PED case, and a six-game suspension. Cases where so much money is involved, a potential defendant could threaten to claim physical abuse when none existed. Often times physical abuse has occurred and no one believes it for fear that the defendant is making it up in a search for more cash, or revenge.
This comes down to how does one define domestic violence, and that is something the NFL and the player’s union will never agree on. Is it exclusively reserved for physical harm? Do verbal threats qualify?
Does what Randle’s ex claims he did qualify as domestic violence? If verbal threats do it for you, and they are verified, then yes. He is a professional football player with superior strength, and any threat he made could potentially be viewed as menacing and hurtful. If these verbal threats are discarded, and then something of a physical nature does happen, then the authorities and the NFL will be criticized for failing to act on these initial reports.
In this day and age of swift, over-reactive justice that can be streamed live on Facebook, leaders such as Goodell are pressured into levying penalties that may not merit the situation. Waiting is normally the best play, but in cases such as these failure to recognize the temperature of the situation could be fatal.
As much criticism as Goodell has earned over the last year, trying to properly address situations like these is impossible. It’s a guess, and a hope that nothing else happens for the sake not of the shield but the people involved.
Randle’s latest case reads like two emotional people arguing over money, and lawyers looking to extract a few dollars of their own, too. What we know from these reports is that Randle did not cross the line, but he was in sight of it.
What we know is that the NFL should not put Randle in the domestic abuser category, and the Cowboys do not have to feel compelled to cut this guy yet for once again behaving like a dope.
Every party involved, however, is sight of all it.
Mac Engel, 817-390-7760