The code of silence coming from the Giants in the wake of kicker Josh Brown’s one-game suspension for violating the NFL’s personal conduct policy is as mystifying as it is disturbing.
Since last Wednesday, when the NFL announced the suspension, which stems from a domestic violence incident in 2015, the only official comments by the organization have come from coach Ben McAdoo. First he issued a statement expressing support for Brown while not disputing the punishment. Then he said Thursday that the Giants “treat these situations on a case-by-case basis.”
The stonewalling continued Tuesday.
“I’ve said everything that I’m going to say about Josh,” McAdoo told reporters before practice. “I respect that you have to ask that question, but my comments stay my comments.”
General manager Jerry Reese has said nothing.
Team president John Mara, one of the most respected owners in the game and a leading voice on important NFL matters, has said nothing.
The Giants may have a well-earned reputation for doing and saying the right things on any number of issues and for treating their players fairly over the years, but they have come up very, very small on this one. Silence won’t make it go away.
Domestic violence is one of the most significant off-field problems facing the league, and commissioner Roger Goodell’s botched handling of the Ray Rice situation two years ago led to blistering criticism and soul-searching at every level of the NFL.
The league eventually got a handle on how to treat violators of the personal conduct policy, particularly domestic violence, and Goodell oversaw a promising transformation in the NFL’s workplace culture. Domestic violence is a complicated issue with many layers and difficult choices in terms of how players should be disciplined, but the league appeared to strike the right balance when dealing with cases following the Rice ordeal.
Brown’s case highlighted some of those complexities, yet the Giants’ virtual silence has only compounded the problem. What Brown indicated in his only public comments Thursday, that the suspension was the result of “just a moment” when he grabbed the wrist of his then-wife, Molly, quickly mushroomed into a much bigger controversy. Police reports from the May 22, 2015 incident said Molly Brown told of at least 20 prior occasions when Josh had become physically violent with her.
Brown has not commented since, nor have the Giants made any official statements. Which makes the situation worse, because so many questions remain unanswered.
Did the Giants know about the previous incidents to which Molly Brown referred? Did the team re-sign Brown to a two-year, $4-million contract in April while knowing the potential fallout from an investigation the league began months earlier? Given McAdoo’s strong comments in January about not tolerating domestic violence, did the Giants essentially overrule him in keeping Brown? Are the Giants more concerned with winning games at any cost, even at the expense of their better judgment?
We don’t know any of it, because no one in a position of authority is saying anything.
Silence may be the team’s preferred tactic until some of the controversy has diminished. The team may not want to appear as if it is casting any aspersions on Molly Brown, which is understandable and may be why no one is saying anything. But until someone steps forward and offers an explanation, the questions will continue to be asked, and doubts about the organization’s actions will continue to fester.
And when you have Jason Pierre-Paul offer comments like “we look past it” about Brown’s situation, then the Giants deserve the criticism for such tone-deaf remarks. It also doesn’t help that a rookie head coach has to deal with a controversy his superiors are unwilling to address.
It’s a bad look that is getting worse the longer the silence continues.