Joe Gandelman, 9/25/2014 [Archive]

NFL Gave Offenders a Pass

Independent's Eye by Joe Gandelman

The news stories on Google News are surging as forcefully as a tsunami. The subject: the NFL and domestic abuse."Domestic violence much bigger than NFL...Domestic violence in the NFL...The Media's NFL Domestic Abuse Hysteria...NFL looks to training to prevent domestic abuse in players...NFL sponsors don't want their ads running during Ravens or Vikings games." But that's only one of the key issues.

Unless you've been on Mars, you know the story about former Baltimore Ravens star Ray Rice, who's under indefinite suspension after a surveillance video showed him K.O-ing his then-fiance Janay Palmer, and dragging her unconscious body out of an elevator. It sparked a public furor over domestic violence. Rice's newest defense: the video, ESPN reports his legal team argues, is a "cleaned-up, whittled-down and condensed version," unfairly edited. (Hey, if it was run in full, that punch wouldn't be so bad!).

And unless you've been on Jupiter, you know about how the Minnesota Vikings initially invited running back Adrian Peterson back to the team after his indictment on child abuse charges for using a wooden switch to spank his 4-year-old son. After the uproar, the Vikings deactivated him. Peterson's argument: he was merely disciplining his son the way his parents disciplined him and he turned out fine. (Hey, just rev up that catchy song "Tradition" from Fiddler on the Roof!)

The NFL has had more hits than the San Diego Padres.

Meanwhile, it has been pointed out that politicians don't lose their jobs as quickly due to big scandals as star athletes do.Fair enough, but initially these athletes were given a virtual PASSuntil media coverage and growing public outrage forced their bosses' money-hungry hands.

The bottom line? Celebrities often get a pass that us ordinary mortals don't -- and won't.

Ted Healey, The Three Stooges original "boss" in the act (who had parted company with the boys earlier), died suddenly on December 21, 1937 at the age of 41 after being badly beaten the night before. Recent accounts contend that a key assailant was Hollywood legend Wallace Beery, who won best actor for his role in the 1931 movie "The Champ" which also featured a scene-stealing child actor named Jackie Cooper. Various accounts now say Beery's role was covered up by movie studio fixers.

Remember O.J. Simpson? Yes, a jury didn't convict him, and polls showed a perceptual racial divide. But most now feel he got away with you-know-what, and many at the time defended him because he was a great football player who they admired.

Michael Jackson? He waslegally cleared in a high-profile child molestation case, but in 1993paid $15.3 million to settle a boy's sex abuse claims. His estate is today being sued by James Safechuck, 36, who alleges Jackson sexually abused him as a child 100 times over a 4-year period.In 1992, I heard rumors about Jackson's alleged activities with boys when I did a showin L.A. If Michael Jackson hadn't been someone so loved for his music but had been Howard Schmidlap down the streetwho routinely slept with young boys, would so many have rushed to Schmidlap's defense to passionately defend him and diss accusers?

And what about all the Hollywood actors and directors (Penelope Cruz, Tilda Swinton, Martin Scorese, Monica Bellucci and others)who in recent years defended director Roman Polanski, who in 1977 plead guilty to having had unlawful intercourse with a minor, then fled the country before sentencing? You defend your peers, right?

In schools across the country kids are taught that they must make good decisions to get good consequences. Schools are spending lots of time and money on programs hammering home this theme on problems such as bullying. And many of the kids are indeed learning.

It seems like some grownups aren't doing as well -- that there are someready to cushion or block the the normally bad consequences thatwould naturally flow fromtheir best buds' or heroes'poor choices. Can adults learn what kids are now learning? Or will the fear of losing big bucks, and the misplaced loyaltie, continue to reign supreme?

Make your bets in Vegas now. Just don't bet your house.

——-

Copyright 2014 Joe Gandelman, distributed exclusively by Cagle Cartoons newspaper syndicate.

Joe Gandelman is a veteran journalist who wrote for newspapers overseas and in the United States. He has appeared on cable news show political panelsand is Editor-in-Chief of The Moderate Voice, an Internet hub for independents, centrists and moderates. He also writes for The Week's online edition. CNN's John Avlon named him as one of the top 25 Centrists Columnists and Commentators. He can be reached at jgandelman@themoderatevoice.com and can be booked to speak at www.mavenproductions.com. Follow him on Twitter: www.twitter.com/joegandelman

This column has been edited by the author. Representations of fact and opinion are solely those of the author.

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