The Marshall Plan: Can One Man Solve the NFL’s Domestic Violence Crisis?

Roger Goodell and the NFL has tried to avoid the problem of domestic violence to mitigate harm to the league and its image. Yet domestic violence is not something we can get away from but must engage. Perhaps Brandon Marshall, a once unlikely candidate, can show the league how.

In a Week 2 matchup with San Francisco, wide receiver Brandon Marshall scored three of the Bears’ four touchdowns in Chicago’s 28-20 win over the 49ers.

That standout performance, along with dozens of others by the five-time Pro Bowler over the past six seasons, would never have happened had the NFL’s new Domestic Abuse Policy been in place in 2008, because Brandon Marshall would have been kicked out of the sport. Oddly enough, though, given the maelstrom surrounding owners and executives over their mishandling of violent offenders in the league’s midst, banishing Marshall for his transgressions would likely have been a bad thing.

Domestic violence is nothing new to the NFL, with 56 reported incidents implicating 50 players on 25 different teams since Roger Goodell became the league’s commissioner in September 2006. Four of those cases involved Marshall. Under the new policy ‒ announced by Goodell less than a month ago ‒ three such offenses would have prompted the league to expel Marshall forever. Improbably, instead of being six years into a lifetime ban and made an example of, Marshall may now represent the NFL’s best hope for altering its culture, shepherding behavior change, and rehabilitating the league and its tarnished public image.

By many accounts (including his own), Marshall was a bad guy, no different than Ray Rice, Jonathan Dwyer, Greg Hardy and Ray McDonald are now. Between January 1, 2007 and April 23, 2011, Marshall was connected to the following incidents:

  • January 1, 2007: Marshall “instigated a fight” that resulted in teammate Darrent Williams being shot and killed.
  • March 26, 2007: Arrested for domestic violence.
  • October 22, 2007: Arrested for driving under the influence.
  • March 4, 2008: Arrested a second time for domestic violence.
  • June 12, 2008: Arrested for moving violations.
  • March 1, 2009: Arrested a third time for domestic violence.
  • April 23, 2011: Marshall was stabbed by his wife, Michi Nogami-Marshall.

Last week, Gloria Allred accused the NFL of “covering up” Marshall’s 2008 actions. The NFL did suspend Marshall for one game in August that year after repeated violations of the league’s Personal Conduct Policy, a markedly more lenient document at that time. Under the new rules, Marshall would have been suspended for the first six games of the 2007 season, banned for a year after the March 2008 incident, and given a lifetime ban in 2009. Instead, Marshall was given a second chance after being sentenced to anger management counseling for his transgressions.

What happened next is remarkable. More than that, though: It’s important.

During counseling, Marshall discovered he had never learned productive ways to deal with his anger. “I come from an environment where it wasn’t the family that prayed together, stayed together. It was the family that fought against each other stayed together. I saw women as the aggressors. I saw men as the aggressors. And I think the first half of my career really painted a picture of me being a product of my environment,” Marshall told Inside the NFL co-hosts Boomer Esiason and Greg Gumbel. Recalling the frequent occurrences of his upbringing, Marshall cited, “cops being called. Families fighting amongst each other. Arguing. Yelling. … But at the end of the day, you’ve got to look in the mirror and say, ‘How can I change this? How can I be better than the last generation?’”

When asked by Esiason how he would have been treated under the new Domestic Abuse Policy, Marshall responded introspectively. “I was in a situation back then where I didn’t see the fault in [myself],” he said, “So it could have been one of those things that scared me and maybe helped me get out of that situation. But at the same time, the way my mentality was back then, I probably would have stayed [in the situation] and probably served a six-game suspension or even been banned from the NFL.”

On July 31, 2011 ‒ three months after becoming a victim of domestic violence himself when stabbed by his wife ‒ Marshall publicly admitted his life-long struggle with Borderline Personality Disorder, a condition that often manifests as unusually heightened sensitivity to and fear ‒ sometimes aggressive fear ‒ of being viewed negatively, difficulty managing relationships with others, emotional instability and impulsivity. He committed himself to therapy, both medicinal and counseling, and is now an outspoken advocate for BPD awareness and fundraising.

During the Miami Dolphins bullying scandal in 2013, Marshall was among the many NFL veterans to condemn physical and mental harassment in the locker room, saying:

You can’t show that you’re hurt. You can’t show any pain. So for a guy that comes in the locker room and he shows a little vulnerability, that’s a problem. So that’s what I mean by the culture of the NFL, and that’s what we have to change.

Take a little boy and a little girl. The little boy falls down, and the first thing we say as parents: ‘Get up, shake it off. You’ll be OK, don’t cry.’ When the girl falls down, what do we say? ‘It’s gonna be OK.’ We validate their feelings. So right there from that moment, we’re teaching our men to mask their feelings, don’t show their emotions. And it’s that times 100 with football players. So what’s going on in Miami, it goes on in every locker room.

But it’s time for us to start talking, maybe have some group sessions where guys sit down and talk about what’s going on off the field or what’s going on in the building and not mask everything because the [longer] it goes untreated, the worse it gets.”

Brandon Marshall, a man who admits he grew up “fighting” and emulating “aggressors,” is now suggesting that NFL players talk it out. To talk about their responsibility to one another, to their families, to themselves, and to be “better than the last generation.” To change their behavior and their attitudes toward the way things have been done in the past. To stop conditioning boys to “be boys.” To stop hitting and start talking.

Domestic violence is not just an NFL problem. According to the 2010 Centers for Disease Control National Intimate Partner and Sexual Violence Survey, “about 1 in 4 women (24.3%) and 1 in 7 men (13.8%) have experienced severe physical violence by an intimate partner (e.g., hit with a fist or something hard, beaten, slammed against something) at some point in their lifetime.” Half of men and two-thirds of women reported the abuse took place before age 25. As America’s most popular television show, the NFL is often a vehicle for conveying important issues prevalent in society. NFL players are the most visible perpetrators but this problem is pervasive and widespread. Domestic violence – not football – is America’s real national pastime.

Growing up, Marshall learned how to lose his temper, how to fight, how to hide any emotional vulnerabilities: how to “be a man.” Like fellow NFL players Adrian Peterson (currently under investigation for reckless and negligent injury to a child) and Greg Hardy (currently appealing a conviction for domestic violence), he had money and resources that most people do not. Indeed, he was only given so many opportunities because he is a fabulously talented professional athlete. This privileged status is why Marshall has the opportunity to help lead the NFL into a national conversation about how to deal with domestic violence in America.

It starts in childhood, where Marshall accurately notes boys are taught “how to be men” by denying physical pain. For some, those lessons continue with corporal punishment, fighting, and physical altercations. Some, raised in an environment of abuse, pass these values to their children, either directly through the use of a “switch” or through observation, when verbal and physical abuse exists “in the family”. This becomes a cycle of parents hitting each other or their children, with their offspring in turn emulating the behavior they see and becoming abusers themselves. On and on it goes, hidden from society because shame goes hand-in-hand with abuse.

Domestic violence will never entirely disappear but the NFL’s current crisis has dragged it out of the shadows and into the spotlight provided by Sunday, Monday and Thursday nights. Victims have been empowered to speak up, as evidenced by the #whyIstayed / #whyIleft social media movement. States are enacting new laws, such as the Massachusetts Domestic Violence Act, to more effectively address such abuse through the criminal justice system. The NFL has announced their intent to financially support charitable organizations like the National Domestic Violence Hotline and the National Sexual Violence Resource Center. While the NFL’s motives here are obviously selfish ‒ team owners and league executives want this current crisis to leave the headlines ‒ those organizations will now be able to help thousands of victims in ways that were not possible before the NFL needed to assuage its guilty conscience.

Now, the NFL needs an outspoken advocate: someone who has abused and been abused. Someone who can articulate the need to talk about problems instead of using physical violence, gender-driven insults or verbal attacks. Someone who understands that change begins with taking personal responsibility for bad behavior and then working, diligently, to make those changes the new reality.

Brandon Marshall could have been banned from the NFL for life and continued on his abusive path, but instead he used his second chance to do something much harder: change. He decided to humble himself and talk honestly about his mistakes, in the hope that by sharing his experiences we can all be “better than the last generation.” He has chosen to be accountable for his crimes by openly admitting what is obvious: He has recognized his privileged status and realized how lucky he is to still be playing in the NFL, and that to make amends, he must show others “the right way”.

“I went from being a problem in the locker room to being a guy where not only players but coaches and executives come to me for advice”  ‒ Brandon Marshall (on Inside The NFL)

It is now time for the NFL to listen. Marshall is the league’s best hope to convince fans and critics that punishment and suspensions are only a small part of the solution to its domestic abuse problem. What NFL owners and executives continue to miss is that to learn from our mistakes, we have to talk about them. They can no longer count on fans caring only about a player’s stats while ignoring his rap sheet. Like it or not, there will be a next time and next time, they want to be ready for it. Talking openly about domestic abuse now, and for as long as it takes, is the thing – really, the only thing -that can lead to us making a difference moving forward.

“I’m just thankful that now I’m in a position where I can take my story and tell these guys, ‘Listen, man, you don’t have to be a product of your environment. That is the wrong path.’” ‒ Brandon Marshall (on Inside The NFL)

Change is hard, but Brandon Marshall is working at it every day.

Doug Farrar at SI.com published a related piece about Marshall that was brought to the author’s attention during the editing process. NFL Network recently featured Marshall on its “A Football Life” series. Marshall’s official twitter account is @BMarshall. The Bears face the New York Jets tonight on Monday Night Football (ESPN, 8:30 p.m. EDT).

Brandon Marshall, right, with Phil Simms on the set of “Inside the NFL.” (Showtime)

18 thoughts on “The Marshall Plan: Can One Man Solve the NFL’s Domestic Violence Crisis?

  1. I live in Chicago, and there’s but quite a bit made of not only how Marshall seems to have turned it around, but his willingness to talk about. It seems he barely flinched when Allred decided he would be her new poster child, and quickly gave his version of events before moving on to the more encompassing topic of how to change these patterns. 
     
    That tells me he’s either been amazingly well-coached (which if he is really a bad guy, in unlikely to work. Bad guys don’t tend to stick to talking points), or he believes what’s he’s saying. How surprised would anyone have been if he went on a rant against Allred, the woman, her father, the other woman who seems to have a role in this case, etc? And it could have been justified by his fans, cronies, hangers-on.
     
    But he didn’t do that. He acknowledged what he had done wrong, explained some of the context (way better than Sephen A covered the question of being “provoked”), and moved on to how he changed, and how others can change. Given his life story, it is pretty impressive. That doesn’t mean he didn’t victimize women in the past, but it may be a credible story of change/redemption. I wonder about the “counseling” he received, and how replicable it is. Seems to me a return to the league ought to be predicated on attending counseling sessions and taking them seriously. 

  2. I wonder about the “counseling” he received, and how replicable it is. Seems to me a return to the league ought to be predicated on attending counseling sessions and taking them seriously. 

     
    Terrific reply, thanks. 
     
    I think this is the key aspect and, at least IMO, it is very easy to replicate if the person is committed to it. The hard part is the daily commitment and the dedication to the big-picture goal of change and counselors can’t do that part for you. 
     
    Saying “I’m gonna change” is easy. Talking about how you plan to change is easy. Sitting in on a few counseling sessions is easy. Talking daily about your own short-comings and issues – e.g. the things that keep you from “change” – is hard. Being constantly engaged in the process is hard. 
     
    This goes hand-in-hand with the NFL’s other “crises”, specifically non-PED drug use and/or alcohol-related driving offenses. Yes, counseling should be a key part of the treatment (not the “punishment”) but it has to be taken seriously. 
     
    What I find most remarkable about Marshall is his daily commitment to his change and recovery. His twitter feed is loaded with his appearances and speaking engagements at Chicago-area schools and youth programs. That is his “talk therapy” – constantly reviewing his bad acts and giving the audience of young people the “let’s do it differently” perspective. 

  3. Great piece.  For a long time, Marshall was the baddest of the bad.  He was a punchline to every “NFL players are criminals” joke.  This story is inspiring, because if someone like him can get a handle on the causes of his own behavior and take responsibility for them, then there is hope for anyone else in a similar situation.  I also think his message resonates so much more because he has been on both sides of the situation. 
     
    Well done, I’m enjoying Football Central. 

  4. I live in Chicago, and there’s been quite a bit made of not only how Marshall seems to have turned it around, but his willingness to talk about. It seems he barely flinched when Allred decided he would be her new poster child, and quickly gave his version of events before moving on to the more encompassing topic of how to change these patterns. 
     
    That tells me he’s either been amazingly well-coached (which if he is really a bad guy, is unlikely to work. Bad guys don’t tend to stick to talking points), or he believes what’s he’s saying. How surprised would anyone have been if he went on a rant against Allred, the woman, her father, the other woman who seems to have a role in this case, etc? And it could have been justified by his fans, cronies, hangers-on.
     
    But he didn’t do that. He acknowledged what he had done wrong, explained some of the context (way better than Sephen A covered the question of being “provoked”), and moved on to how he changed, and how others can change. Given his life story, it is pretty impressive. That doesn’t mean he didn’t victimize women in the past, but it may be a credible story of change/redemption. I wonder about the “counseling” he received, and how replicable it is. Seems to me a return to the league ought to be predicated on attending counseling sessions and taking them seriously. 

     

     
    It really reminds of the beginning of the movie Clear and Present Danger when the President’s best friend close friend was found dead on a boat full of coke and his advisors were trying to figure out how to disavow him and Ryan’s like, “When they ask you if he was your friend, just say yes.”
     
    Marshall’s response was easy because he’s actually reckoned with his situation and continues to do so. So when Allred dropped this “big reveal” he’s just like, “Um, yeah, everybody knows that. But it’s now now, so here’s what I’ve been doing and it what I will continue to do.”
     
    This is what the league doesn’t get: if you do the right thing you don’t have to get all sketchy and hedge and shuck a jive about it. Marshall can say he takes this shit seriously and people believe him because he does. Goodell cannot because he doesn’t, he just wants people to think he does. In some respects, it’s as simple as that.

  5. This is what the league doesn’t get: if you do the right thing you don’t have to get all sketchy and hedge and shuck a jive about it. Marshall can say he takes this shit seriously and people believe him because he does. Goodell cannot because he doesn’t, he just wants people to think he does. In some respects, it’s as simple as that.

     
    I think this is spot-on.  People aren’t looking for perfection.  They just want accountability.

  6. This goes hand-in-hand with the NFL’s other “crises”, specifically non-PED drug use and/or alcohol-related driving offenses. Yes, counseling should be a key part of the treatment (not the “punishment”) but it has to be taken seriously. 

    I’m more familiar than I’d like to be with interventions for alcohol abuse, and my very limited experiences suggests if someone is going to rehab/therapy because they have to, there’s no easy way to get them to care. I don’t really know how that might be done, but Mark Schlereth in his diatribe against Goodell suggest the NFL has a wealth of former players they can tap into. Sort of like sponsors in AA, perhaps. For alcohol and a host of other things the league wants to end. Maybe the NFL can find their own John Lucas or Daryl Porter or Bob Welch, or Kerry Collins — who are all at different points on any scale..
     
     

    What I find most remarkable about Marshall is his daily commitment to his change and recovery. His twitter feed is loaded with his appearances and speaking engagements at Chicago-area schools and youth programs. That is his “talk therapy” – constantly reviewing his bad acts and giving the audience of young people the “let’s do it differently” perspective. 

    Without disagreeing, what I find most remarkable is he pulled this off when it wasn’t required. He didn’t get anything approaching the attention Rice and AP have gotten (though it may have been different in Denver). And, as Allred reminded  in her ham-handed way, the NFL didn’t come down hard on Marshall. They (sort of) gave him the minimum. He could have shrugged off counseling, lied his way thru and continued on his former path. 
     
    It seems (and there’s a ton of people at Penn State who know what that can lead to) he changed because something in him wanted to change.  No one modeled good behavior for him (AFAIK). He sought it out, sought help in becoming the role model he wanted to be, and continues to work on it. Hopefully, he won’t make us all look like fools in coming months and years. And even if something does go wrong, I’m prepared to say he’s honest and genuine NOW.  There’s many reasons that can change, but I’m rooting for the guy.

  7. I haven’t had an opportunity to read the article just yet, but, I’m curious if his turn around has anything to do with getting his well documented mental illness under control the past couple of years.

  8. I haven’t had an opportunity to read the article just yet, but, I’m curious if his turn around has anything to do with getting his well documented mental illness under control the past couple of years.

    Umm … why don’t you read the article then?

  9. Well, it isn’t in the first paragraph so he will need to read for a long time to find out how the story ends. Maybe he just had time for the Reader’s Digest version.

    Do they still make Reader’s Digest?

  10. Well, it isn’t in the first paragraph so he will need to read for a long time to find out how the story ends. Maybe he just had time for the Reader’s Digest version.

    Do they still make Reader’s Digest?

     
    Yes as an online edition: http://www.rd.com
    No as a printed piece.

  11. The Chicago Tribune gave some indepth takes of the Marshall press conference.  They don’t let Marshall completely off the hook; he rehashed his past without apologizing to the accuser.  
     
    http://www.chicagotribune.com/sports/columnists/ct-brandon-marshall-bears-haugh-20140919-column.html
    It’s behind a paywall; here’s an excerpt

     

    The story “E:60” aired Tuesday rehashing Marshall’s troubled past before joining the Bears in 2012 indeed lacked context — how does a major network not inform viewers the primary interview of the main subject was conducted two years earlier? But Marshall has made too much progress spreading mental-health awareness to publicly victimize a victim like Watley. Marshall asked for an apology from ESPN, for instance, but never offered one for his role in whatever transpired with Watley. Nobody really needed to hear about a clinician describing Watley’s “assaultive behavior,” or how Marshall’s past made him “vulnerable” to women. Nobody needed to know how much money Marshall estimated his actions cost him in salary and endorsements ($50 million).
    A man who has dealt with borderline personality disorder as successfully as Marshall has should have found the discipline to avoid going down that narcissistic path. You wonder if the Bears regretted giving Marshall that much autonomy to run his own media gathering when he started reading a letter from 2008 verbatim.
    Thus, Marshall’s exchange with reporters included parts that were more embarrassing than enlightening, more cringe-worthy than newsworthy. All of it was compelling, especially when Marshall detailed his dysfunctional upbringing in a home broken by domestic violence as a means of explaining the makeup of many NFL players. He offered the example more as explanation than excuse. 

     
    Sums it up:

    The problem many observers faced afterward was whether to classify Marshall’s news conference immediately as a
    success or failure. But the answer isn’t black or white. It’s more gray.

  12. Solid piece. One nit: I might’ve also mentioned that it’s entirely possible Marshall will fail and relapse. I agree as much as you do that the league desperately needs guys with the courage to speak up about this stuff.

    But I also think that this stuff is very, very deeply ingrained – and for all his progress, you can’t put all your hopes for this on a guy with a past like this.

    My wife has been very active in the DV community over the years – and one thing she and I have discussed several times is how few resources or even attention has been put on what drives this kind of behavior in men. A big part of the reason, I suspect, is that there’s so little attention even put on the victims.

    Which is why, to your point, leadership here can’t be coming from only the players – it needs to come first and foremost from the league and the leadership in the league.

    I cannot say how disappointed I was in Goodell’s press conference that he didn’t do more to talk about the culture problem that the league has. That while there is a very small number of people who have actually gotten in trouble (and he should have said that), the league itself was revealed to have very little understanding of this problem – and that it’s his responsibility to ensure that it gets better.

    I want Brandon Marshall to be a role model as much as anyone. I just think we can’t be hoping for role models here. It’s really a problem of leadership.

  13. The Chicago Tribune gave some indepth takes of the Marshall press conference.  They don’t let Marshall completely off the hook; he rehashed his past without apologizing to the accuser.  
     
    http://www.chicagotribune.com/sports/columnists/ct-brandon-marshall-bears-haugh-20140919-column.html
    It’s behind a paywall; here’s an excerpt

     
    This, like Marshall, is complicated and confounding. 
     
    First, a little inside baseball: his press conference nearly torpedoed the piece. Not because of the content but because it serves as such an amplification of the story, as written. The forty-minute press conference touches on everything in The Marshall Plan, resolving nothing. The quotes on many subjects were consistent with previous statements cited in the story but there was little new, other than his reaction to ESPN/Allred. Which was a doozy.
     
    He clearly feels ESPN recycled content from six years ago to portray him as that person today. I can see why he’d take exception to that; the story is about his efforts to change over the last six years. By contrast, the NFL Network’s “A Football Life” (linked in the story) is a fair look at Marshall and his evolution. 
     
    I really struggled with Allred’s role in the story, finally choosing to note the event but nothing more than that. Allred used to be an excellent attorney but her reputation for being after news coverage instead of justice hurts her credibility. And on the other hand, giving voice to the associated victims of domestic violence is a “good” for society. The stories told by the family and friends are all too-familiar because intimate partner violence affects more than just the physical victims. Their stories were powerful and relevant and Marshall’s failure to acknowledge them is troubling. 
     
    But Allred wasn’t bringing those friends and family out to ensure a six-year old crime was investigated. Allred was trying to get her share of the spotlight in the NFL’s recent three-ring circus of failure. Making Brandon Marshall part of the story probably made him angry, and he failed to do everything necessary – e.g. apologize to the victim – in his press conference. 
     
    But what he did do was talk about The Marshall Plan. And give the NFL a way to effect real change on this, and other issues. 
     
    I’ve seen here, and other places, this sentiment that Adrian Peterson shouldn’t be allowed to play football again if found guilty. And I don’t get that at all because it presupposes guilt AND precludes the chance that Peterson could become the greatest spokesperson against child abuse ever. What Peterson is accused of is sickening but it is also true that he learned that behavior. He can unlearn it. He can change. And if he becomes half as eloquent and thoughtful as Brandon Marshall, he’ll do a whole lot of good for our world. 
     
    It really is up to us to leave the out-dated behaviors of past generations in the past. Physical violence solves only a few, highly-circumscribed problems. Ask Marciano490 for the full list. Family is no place for physical violence. Love doesn’t hit, ever. Love talks, even when it is painful and hard. If you can’t talk, walk. 

  14. The Chicago Tribune gave some indepth takes of the Marshall press conference.  They don’t let Marshall completely off the hook; he rehashed his past without apologizing to the accuser.  
     
    http://www.chicagotribune.com/sports/columnists/ct-brandon-marshall-bears-haugh-20140919-column.html
    It’s behind a paywall; here’s an excerpt

     
    This, like Marshall, is complicated and confounding. 
     
    First, a little inside baseball: his press conference nearly torpedoed the piece. Not because of the content but because it serves as such an amplification of the story, as written. The forty-minute press conference touches on everything in The Marshall Plan, resolving nothing. The quotes on many subjects were consistent with previous statements cited in the story but there was little new, other than his reaction to ESPN/Allred. Which was a doozy.
     
    He clearly feels ESPN recycled content from six years ago to portray him as that person today. I can see why he’d take exception to that; the story is about his efforts to change over the last six years. By contrast, the NFL Network’s “A Football Life” (linked in the story) is a fair look at Marshall and his evolution. 
     
    I really struggled with Allred’s role in the story, finally choosing to note the event but nothing more than that. Allred used to be an excellent attorney but her reputation for being after news coverage instead of justice hurts her credibility. And on the other hand, giving voice to the associated victims of domestic violence is a “good” for society. The stories told by the family and friends are all too-familiar because intimate partner violence affects more than just the physical victims. Their stories were powerful and relevant and Marshall’s failure to acknowledge them is troubling. 
     
    But Allred wasn’t bringing those friends and family out to ensure a six-year old crime was investigated. Allred was trying to get her share of the spotlight in the NFL’s recent three-ring circus of failure. Making Brandon Marshall part of the story probably made him angry, and he failed to do everything necessary – e.g. apologize to the victim – in his press conference. 
     
    But what he did do was talk about The Marshall Plan. And give the NFL a way to effect real change on this, and other issues. 
     
    I’ve seen here, and other places, this sentiment that Adrian Peterson shouldn’t be allowed to play football again if found guilty. And I don’t get that at all because it presupposes guilt AND precludes the chance that Peterson could become the greatest spokesperson against child abuse ever. What Peterson is accused of is sickening but it is also true that he learned that behavior. He can unlearn it. He can change. And if he becomes half as eloquent and thoughtful as Brandon Marshall, he’ll do a whole lot of good for our world. 
     
    It really is up to us to leave the out-dated behaviors of past generations in the past. Physical violence solves only a few, highly-circumscribed problems. Ask Marciano490 for the full list. Family is no place for physical violence. Love doesn’t hit, ever. Love talks, even when it is painful and hard. If you can’t talk, walk. 

  15. The Chicago Tribune gave some indepth takes of the Marshall press conference.  They don’t let Marshall completely off the hook; he rehashed his past without apologizing to the accuser.  
     
    http://www.chicagotribune.com/sports/columnists/ct-brandon-marshall-bears-haugh-20140919-column.html
    It’s behind a paywall; here’s an excerpt

     
    This, like Marshall, is complicated and confounding. 
     
    First, a little inside baseball: his press conference nearly torpedoed the piece. Not because of the content but because it serves as such an amplification of the story, as written. The forty-minute press conference touches on everything in The Marshall Plan, resolving nothing. The quotes on many subjects were consistent with previous statements cited in the story but there was little new, other than his reaction to ESPN/Allred. Which was a doozy.
     
    He clearly feels ESPN recycled content from six years ago to portray him as that person today. I can see why he’d take exception to that; the story is about his efforts to change over the last six years. By contrast, the NFL Network’s “A Football Life” (linked in the story) is a fair look at Marshall and his evolution. 
     
    I really struggled with Allred’s role in the story, finally choosing to note the event but nothing more than that. Allred used to be an excellent attorney but her reputation for being after news coverage instead of justice hurts her credibility. And on the other hand, giving voice to the associated victims of domestic violence is a “good” for society. The stories told by the family and friends are all too-familiar because intimate partner violence affects more than just the physical victims. Their stories were powerful and relevant and Marshall’s failure to acknowledge them is troubling. 
     
    But Allred wasn’t bringing those friends and family out to ensure a six-year old crime was investigated. Allred was trying to get her share of the spotlight in the NFL’s recent three-ring circus of failure. Making Brandon Marshall part of the story probably made him angry, and he failed to do everything necessary – e.g. apologize to the victim – in his press conference. 
     
    But what he did do was talk about The Marshall Plan. And give the NFL a way to effect real change on this, and other issues. 
     
    I’ve seen here, and other places, this sentiment that Adrian Peterson shouldn’t be allowed to play football again if found guilty. And I don’t get that at all because it presupposes guilt AND precludes the chance that Peterson could become the greatest spokesperson against child abuse ever. What Peterson is accused of is sickening but it is also true that he learned that behavior. He can unlearn it. He can change. And if he becomes half as eloquent and thoughtful as Brandon Marshall, he’ll do a whole lot of good for our world. 
     
    It really is up to us to leave the out-dated behaviors of past generations in the past. Physical violence solves only a few, highly-circumscribed problems. Ask Marciano490 for the full list. Family is no place for physical violence. Love doesn’t hit, ever. Love talks, even when it is painful and hard. If you can’t talk, walk. 

  16. Which is why, to your point, leadership here can’t be coming from only the players – it needs to come first and foremost from the league and the leadership in the league.

    I cannot say how disappointed I was in Goodell’s press conference that he didn’t do more to talk about the culture problem that the league has. That while there is a very small number of people who have actually gotten in trouble (and he should have said that), the league itself was revealed to have very little understanding of this problem – and that it’s his responsibility to ensure that it gets better.

    I want Brandon Marshall to be a role model as much as anyone. I just think we can’t be hoping for role models here. It’s really a problem of leadership.

     
    Marshall confirmed on Inside the NFL several weeks ago that he has been contacted by the League to provide his perspective; he, the NFLPA and the other non-player experts will shape the future policy. Frankly, the only thing Goodell has done right since the Rice tape was released was to bring in Lisa Friel and a large number of domestic violence experts to write the new Personal Conduct Policy. You are absolutely right that Goodell revealed he knows basically nothing about DV; but he’s also admitted that and actually done something to address the knowledge gap.
     
    And this is not a culture problem the NFL has – it is a culture problem. 538.com’s Benjamin Morris had a very interesting look at why the NFL’s % of violent crime was so skewed toward domestic violence and sexual abuse – it’s worth the Google search. Still, the numbers are mind-numbing. That the NFL bungled the Ray Rice suspension so badly will end up doing more to raise awareness, funds and understanding for DV and its root causes that this will be “good” for society. Even if Marshall himself ends up backsliding (and I sure hope not) to his old self, this current crisis has made domestic violence a topic of conversation at dinner tables and cocktail parties and lots of other places. 
     
    As one of my favorite people likes to say, “this is how we learn, no?”

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