Brandon Marshall Trade: What It Has to Do with a Major Issue in the NFL

Andrew Robeson@SportswriterguyAnalyst IIMarch 14, 2012

INDIANAPOLIS, IN - FEBRUARY 03:  Professional football player Brandon Marshall attends ESPN The Magazine's 'NEXT' Event on February 3, 2012 in Indianapolis, Indiana.  (Photo by Robin Marchant/Getty Images for ESPN)
Robin Marchant/Getty Images

On Tuesday many NFL fans and beat writers wondered why the Miami Dolphins traded Pro Bowl wide receiver Brandon Marshall to the Bears for practically nothing.

Then news broke that Marshall had been involved in yet another incident involving violence against a woman. I’d want the guy gone too.

In the latest incident Marshall allegedly punched a woman outside a New York night club on Monday. Despite the fact Marshall was supposedly swinging at someone else, it doesn’t change the fact that he has been involved in domestic violence cases several times.

Knowing all of this information, the Chicago Bears traded for him anyway.

Brandon Marshall isn’t the only bad guy in the NFL, and he definitely has plenty of company in professional sports in general. If you think I’m exaggerating the prevalence of domestic abusers in sports, feel free to check out this slideshow of athletes who have faced charges.

This trade got me thinking. Does the NFL take violence against women seriously enough? While I wouldn’t exactly argue that this specific case should be made the poster child for rallying against athletes who hit women, it can certainly lead to some debate on the topic.

Consider this. When Erik Walden was charged with domestic abuse this past season, an incident in which he received a deferred judgment agreement, he wasn’t suspended a single game by the Green Bay Packers or NFL commissioner Roger Goodell.

Now look at this hit James Harrison put on Colt McCoy. Harrison was suspended one game for this hit, which occurred on the field of play during an actual game.

Now want some irony? Harrison has also been charged with domestic abuse. In 2008 he was arrested for slapping his girlfriend and breaking her cell phone.

The Harrison case brings up another issue when it comes to domestic violence and the NFL. As one might suspect, the higher profile a player has, the less they seem to be punished. At the same time Harrison was facing charges for domestic abuse, so was fellow Steeler Cedrick Wilson. Wilson was cut for his arrest, while Harrison remained with the team.

Harrison’s charges were eventually dropped after he completed anger management courses, but do you care to guess how many games he was suspended for his arrest?


How can Goodell justify suspending players for their hits on the field, when he won’t even suspend players for their much more serious actions off the field?

Erik Walden is a 6-foot-2, 250-pound man who struck a woman and has yet to receive any punishment from the NFL. If you think I’m picking on Walden, look at the Miami Dolphins' Tony McDaniel, who pleaded no contest to shoving his girlfriend to the ground. He was suspended for just one game, and it took the NFL seven months to dole out that punishment.

Why are there swift and extreme penalties for late and illegal hits that occur in a game, but relatively none for when a player decides to (illegally) strike a woman off the field?

A suspension for a helmet-to-helmet hit should not be the same suspension as for when a NFL player hits a woman.

Then there is Ben Roethlisberger, a man who has twice faced sexual assault allegations. Roethlisberger received a six game suspension, which was later reduced to four games, from the NFL despite never being charged.

The NFL did the right thing suspending Roethlisberger. What I want to know is, how long would he have been suspended had he been charged? How long would he have been suspended had he been convicted?

I’ll never know the answers to those questions, but I somehow doubt they would have been severe enough. It also must be considered that in the context of violence against women sexual assault and rape are more severe allegations than the majority of domestic violence cases.

If the NFL can impose mandatory suspensions for drug violations, why can’t it impose mandatory suspensions for cases involving violence against women?

I know critics will say that we have a judicial system for a reason. However, Goodell has shown that he is willing to punish players who are never convicted of a crime. Goodell and the NFL need to take a harder stance against men who hit women. A one-game suspension is not enough.

The NFL has an opportunity to send a message to its players and all of its fans regarding violence against women, and it needs to take it.