Thursday’s news that New York Giants owner John Mara knew that his place kicker, Josh Brown, abused his wife yet signed him to a free agent contract anyway — and the sidebar that the NFL’s investigation of the allegations was something of a clown-car affair — shouldn’t really be all that surprising. The Ray Rice fiasco showed that investigating claims of domestic abuse isn’t the NFL’s strong suit. But it did show that the league and its teams — including the Giants, hailed as a model franchise for decades — learned exactly nothing from their missteps in 2014, when Rice was sanctioned fully only after TMZ broadcast the video of him punching out his fiancee.
How can an entity that is so good at making money, at creating a product so enticing that millions of Americans spend one day a week consuming it and only it, be so bad at investigating such allegations?
To recap: Mara told WFAN’s Mike Francesa on Thursday that Brown had admitted to him that he had abused his wife, yet the Giants still retained him after he signed a two-year, $4 million free agent deal in April. The NFL suspended Brown for one game in August after news broke of his domestic violence arrest in May 2015, and at the time Mara said he was comfortable with the decision based on all the information available to him. But now more details about Brown’s violent past are coming to light, and they finally forced Mara’s hand: The Giants removed Brown from their traveling party for their trip to London to play the Rams this weekend.
“I’m still comfortable with that decision” to retain Brown, Mara told Francesa, as transcribed by NJ.com. “But given what has happened over the last day, what we’ve been able to review, we feel like it’s in the best course of action for Josh and for our football team, is to make him inactive for this week. We haven’t made a decision yet on his future, but I think the NFL will have something to say about that. . . . What happens now, I’m just not sure.”
Mara oversaw a law firm’s NFL-commissioned investigation into its handling of the Rice case, a step taken only after the TMZ video made a lot of highly paid NFL executives look like enablers of the league’s more violent players.
This is the player they enabled this time, in his own words:
“I have been a liar for most of my life. I made selfish decisions to use and abuse women starting at the age of 7 to fill this void. I objectified women and never really worried about the pain and hurt I caused them. My ability to connect emotionally to other people was zero. My empathy levels were zero.” …
“I became an abuser and hurt Molly physically, emotionally and verbally. I viewed myself as God basically and she was my slave. I carried an overwhelming sense of entitlement because I put money higher than God and I used it as power tool.”
Brown wrote that to friends in a March 2014 email that was part of the counseling he was going through with his then-wife, Molly. She submitted that email along with journal entries, other counseling exercises and court documents as evidence after her husband was arrested in May 2015 on fourth-degree domestic violence charges in Washington state.
In another journal entry, Brown circled the words, “I have abused my wife.”
Police documents in the case — which sparked Thursday’s news after their release by the King County Sheriff’s Office — say that Molly Brown had accused her husband of more than 20 instances of domestic violence.
Ah yes, the King County Sheriff’s Office. On Thursday, the NFL announced it would reopen its investigation into Brown’s arrest. In a statement, the league said it tried to investigate the claims made by Brown’s wife in the past by asking law-enforcement officials for information on the case, but “each of those requests was denied and the Sheriff’s Office declined to provide any of the requested information, which ultimately limited our ability to fully investigate this matter.”
To which King County Sheriff John Urquhart says: hogwash.
In an interview with KIRO radio in Seattle, Urquhart said he was contacted via email by a man named Rob Agnew four days after Brown’s wife lodged the domestic violence complaint against her husband. Agnew’s email address featured a generic Comcast domain, so there was no way of telling he was from the NFL. He was asking for information about the case.
“Nowhere on the request does he say that he works for the NFL and so, we don’t know that it’s the NFL and we’re not gonna give it out anyway, so we denied it,” Urquhart said, per MyNorthwest.com.
” ‘NFL, National Football League,’ he could have (said) any of that,” Urquhart said. “Robert Agnew, Comcast.net, post office box in Woodinville. We had no idea who this yokel is.”
Urquhart also said that a woman who identified herself as security for the NFL and a Seattle police officer who claimed to work for the league called several times asking for information about the case, only to be told that it was an open investigation and that the files could not be released. He added that had the league gone through the proper public-disclosure channels, he likely would have been more willing to help.
“I would have said exactly the same thing, ‘We cannot release the case file.’ But since this is a hot-button item in the NFL, since it’s the NFL, we probably would have told them orally a little bit more about what we had,” he said. “We’ve got some goofus from Woodinville named Rob Agnew asking for the case file. We have no idea who he is.”
And so here we are, more than two years after the Rice fiasco, and the NFL continues to pratfall its way through these investigations until they become little more than farce. And all because of a kicker who could have been replaced after about six hours of looking.