Dr. Sheron's Blog
Open Letter to NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell
Commissioner Goodell, you finally got it right on domestic violence and the NFL. Thank you for admitting that you erred on the penalty of Ray Rice. Thank you for recently presenting a comprehensive plan that penalizes players who commit domestic and sexual violence with a six month game suspension for the first time and banning them from the league for a second time. Your plan offers domestic violence education and counseling for NFL players and high school players as well. As you stated, “the NFL is a leader”. You are courageously leading the way in the domestic violence arena by naming it and holding those who perpetrate it accountable. When men stand up to men, domestic violence is no longer a woman’s issue. Domestic violence awareness needs a major male platform, and the NFL is it.
I want you and your NFL league to take it a step further. During the month of October, when all of the players usually don pink in honor of breast cancer awareness, add purple to the wardrobe too. October is also domestic violence awareness month. Pink and purple can share. I am a breast cancer survivor who proudly wears pink all October long, to let the world know that I have survived the dreaded disease seven years. This year, I am wearing purple as well, in honor of those who have survived domestic violence and those who helped them.
I am not a domestic violence survivor, but as a United Methodist pastor, I have had my share of ministry to and with victims and batterers as well. So many times the women love their men, don’t want to end the relationships and pray the beatings will stop. At best, the children are emotionally shredded. They are caught in the middle listening to the screams of their mothers as their fathers terrorizes them. At worst, the children are terrorized also.
Along with pink and purple helmets and cleats, take your concern to the fans during the games. Insert anti violence against women and children messages on jumbo screens of professional football arenas. Broadcast brief recorded video messages from players during halftime. Some studies reveal that the violent nature of football translates to violence in our homes, with Sunday being the most common day for domestic violence. The wives, girlfriends and children of the men who watch the games are at such risks. Your actions can benefit them as well.
Some of your critics say you are attempting to be America’s moral police. That is not how I see it. You are a very powerful man, who at this juncture in American history and sports history has the ability to help us to understand that it is never right to hit a woman or a child. I am sure that is not what you signed up for, but we must play with the hand we are dealt. What you are doing will not prevent every batterer from hitting and hurting, but stopping even one is worth the effort.
Rev. Sheron C. Patterson, D.Min.