Former Cleveland Browns NFL quarterback Johnny Manziel joins the long list of NFL players who have been charged with domestic violence. A Dallas County Grand Jury indicted Manziel on a misdemeanor assault charge against his ex-girlfriend Colleen Crowley for an alleged assault occurring on January 29, 2016. Crowley received a civil stay away court order until February, 2018, ordering Manziel to remain 500 feet away from her. And if Ray Rice’s case is any indication of what will happen in a criminal court, Manziel is likely to receive a slap on the wrist. Rice was able to enter a New Jersey Court intervention program where his record was wiped clean—despite the egregious elevator footage of his attack on his now wife.
Manziel and Rice do not stand alone in their domestic violence cases. Jerry Angelo, a former Chicago Bears general manager spoke out about hundreds of domestic violence complaints during his 30 years in the league that went unpunished. Famed NFL player Jim Brown in 1968 faced his first of many domestic violence charges, an assault with intent to murder, with other domestic violence charges following in 1985, 1986 and 1999. One of the most egregious domestic violence cases was former Carolina Panthers player, Rae Carruth, who was found guilty of conspiracy to commit murder on his pregnant girlfriend in 1999. A USA Today database that tracks NFL player arrests since 2000 found there were 87 domestic violence arrests among 80 players. And these numbers only deal with arrests and not actual complaints that did not result in an arrest.
NFL named an anti-violence policy group that will meet regularly to assist in designing a league protocol on handling domestic violence. However, there must be more action taken on the domestic violence issue in the NFL to prevent future incidents from occurring or to prevent someone’s life from being taken by a NFL player. The actions must be more than suspensions of games and/or fines, if the NFL is committed to taking a stand against domestic violence.
The issue of domestic violence is a complex issue in the NFL. And it must have a comprehensive approach in dealing with the issue.
Washington, DC based Debbie Hines is a trial lawyer and former prosecutor who has represented many victims of domestic violence.