KANSAS CITY, Mo. – From domestic abuse to allegations of child abuse, the NFL has been rocked in recent weeks by some of its biggest stars.
The NFL suspended indefinitely Baltimore Ravens running back Ray Rice after TMZ published a video showing Rice punching his then-fiancée, now wife Janay Rice inside an Atlantic City casino. Rice was previously suspended two games for the incident before the video’s release.
The Minnesota Vikings placed running back Adrian Peterson on the exempt/commissioner’s permission list after an indictment came out of Montgomery County, Texas, surrounding Peterson allegedly using a switch on his 4-year-old son.
The Carolina Panthers placed defense end Greg Hardy, who was convicted on two counts of domestic abuse in July, on the exempt/commissioner’s permission list.
To say the NFL’s image suffered a black eye is an understatement.
But there are potential positives to take out from the recent scandals, namely awareness and action.
“I think if we can just say this has enlighten us on the issue,” Chiefs coach Andy Reid said Wednesday, “if we can come out saying that, because I think this a part of life today. Not that it hasn’t been in the past, I think it’s been here a while.
“But if it can help make things better, which I think it will, overall I think that’s what we are all striving for right now. In particular the domestic abuse and child abuse situations. I think it can end up being a positive for society and for the National Football League. I’m glad it’s being addressed. I think positive things can happen.”
Still, the NFL is under fire for the way the front office handled Rice before the TMZ tape went public.
The Vikings also fell under scrutiny for deactivating Peterson in Week 2 before activating him, only to see Peterson land on the exempt list in the early Wednesday morning hours.
“I’m not here to judge that other than I think eyes are opened,” Reid said. “Somebody asked me about Michael Vick and I mentioned his situation. The one thing that I think is positive about Michael’s situation is it enlightened people on dog fighting, so then action took place.
“So I’ve been involved in the domestic abuse part of this for many years through our charity, Laurel House, so I’m familiar with it. I’ve seen both sides and talked to people from both sides of it. It needs to come to the front and I’m glad to see that it is from that standpoint.”
Reid believes the league is proactive when it comes to getting the message to players when it comes to what is acceptable and unacceptable behavior.
The Chiefs head coach also talks to the players on current issues and points out help is available if needed.
“I’ve always done that with the players,” Reid said. “I talk to them about any situation that’s out there. We normally hit these things before they happen and talk about it in the offseason and so on. (Player engagement manager) B.J. (Stabler) does a good job at doing his job and keeping players aware of things too. We try to keep communication open.”
Quarterback Alex Smith reinforced those communication lines during his Wednesday locker room media session.
“There’s been a lot going on in the league,” Smith said. “I think the biggest thing – coach even talked about it – I think trying to prevent any of those things from happening, giving guys help and finding ways to resolve problems before they hopefully get to something like that.”
Ultimately, the NFL has more than 2,000 players when including the 10-man practice squad spread across the 32 teams. While the recent events made bad headlines, a majority of players strive to do the right thing.
And Reid emphasized once again the current news help bring awareness to social issues even players aren’t immune from, as well as possible solutions.
“I think the NFL is a strong organization,” Reid said, “and I think they probably feel the same way that if this can help, that’s what we are all looking for. We are in the fix-it business as coaches, so if you can help make somebody a better person and make the world a little bit better, amen to that.”