By Zoë Rader
Just weeks into the season, the NFL has already gotten off to a rocky start. The league has seen its fair share of contention, and it has nothing to do with the games themselves. Off the field, controversies are burning up the league.
A growing issue rippling through the NFL is the refusal of multiple players to stand during the national anthem. The controversy began with San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick, who is protesting the treatment of African-Americans and minorities in the United States. Since Kaepernick’s first sitting, at least 21 NFL players, as well as athletes in high schools and colleges across the country, have imitated the protest, according to thinkprogress.org.
On the other side of the country, New England Patriots star quarterback Tom Brady began his season on the bench. While Brady was suspended four games for allegedly deflating footballs in 2015, Giants kicker Josh Brown was only suspended one game for allegedly abusing his ex-wife. Brown was accused of being physically violent more than 20 times, including while she was pregnant, according to espn.com.
Shouldn’t these incredible athletes, multi-millionaires and role models be held to a higher standard? The NFL needs to enforce more discipline with these football players; they aren’t superhuman celebrities who can get away with anything. No one should see their idols getting benched just one game for allegedly beating their pregnant wife. Or that winning a Super Bowl, possibly as a result of cheating, will land you a mere four-game suspension two seasons later. And really, which of these is worse? Is the NFL trying to tell us that deflating footballs is worse than physically abusing someone?
Despite this, the league and its fans are focusing their attention on the wrong aspects of these scandals. This past month, fans have been fixated on Kaepernick’s protest, with millions tweeting their opinions on the matter and some even burning his jersey in protest, according to cbssports.com. Americans are too concerned with Kaepernick’s actions and are not actually considering his message or his courage. At the same time, the league and fans are giving almost no attention to the inexcusable behavior of Josh Brown, partially because he was only suspended for one game. Not everyone has even heard of these accusations. If the league and fans continue to ignore the real problems, these issues will only persist.
Only three weeks in ,the NFL surely has its hands full, and it may soon fumble. Serious concerns on morale, fairness and beliefs are arising, and the conversation is quickly changing from just the typical “Did you see their defense last night?” or “How ‘bout them Cowboys?” Although controversy is not new to the league, this recent turmoil is definitely something to be wary of. It is time for the NFL to take more drastic disciplinary measures to put an end to the misbehavior of its athletes.