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Giants, Jets players and coaches speak out about 'serious issues'

Baltimore Ravens running back Ray Rice walks off

Baltimore Ravens running back Ray Rice walks off the field before addressing the media at a news conference after NFL football training camp practice, Thursday, July 31, 2014, in Owings Mills, Md. Credit: AP

The surfacing of a video last week of Ray Rice punching his then-fiancee (and now wife), Janay in the elevator of an Atlantic City hotel was only the beginning of a nightmarish week for the NFL. On the heels of that came the news last Friday that Minnesota Vikings running back Adrian Peterson had been indicted in Texas on charges involving his alleged beating of his 4-year-old son with a tree branch. And then there was Carolina Panthers defensive end Greg Hardy, who was suspended by the team for Sunday's game after being convicted of assaulting his girlfriend last summer.

Then, just Wednesday night, Arizona Cardinals running back Jonathan Dwyer was arrested on aggravated assault charges in connection with two altercations at his home in late July involving a 27-year-old woman and an 18-month-old child.

Just what is going on?

"Obviously those are serious issues," Eli Manning said on the topic of the NFL's recent spate of players being connected to domestic violence. "We've got to make sure that's not happening. We can't accept that as players, can't accept that from our teammates around the league. I think the message is out that you can't mess with domestic violence and everybody should know that."

Returning to practice after having Tuesday off, Giants and Jets players were confronted with questions about the hot button issue in the NFL.

"It's impossible to ignore," Rex Ryan said. "It's certainly out there. But as a team, we try and stay out in front of things; we bring in speakers . . . we think our players can gain from. So this is -- whether it's [issues regarding] domestic violence, whether it's other issues, workplace conduct, any of those type of things that we think our team can benefit from, we do it. And we're probably ahead of it, than behind it."

Though none of the current issues involves a current Jets or Giants player, the locals are all affected in that they all belong to the fraternity of NFL players. As such, they understand whatever image the public may have of NFL players in general may apply to them, as well.

"Obviously it creates that stigma for the rest of the league but it's got to be guys like myself, guys like Eli Manning and Antrel Rolle, guys who have a positive image in their communities that have shed light on those things and put those things in the forefront," Victor Cruz said. "It's up to us, guys like that, to create that kind of energy and that kind of atmosphere, not just for our team but around the league."

D'Brickashaw Ferguson, the veteran left tackle of the Jets and one of the team's player representatives, pleaded for patience, rather than a rush to judgment. "Whenever you have a challenging situation, we know that emotional decisions can be very dangerous, because that's not always the best course of action," Ferguson said. "As a person listening and receiving that information, it's hard to say, what is accurate, what is the truth -- is this just being sensationalized? Is this just the one thing that everybody harps on, but there's a bigger story at hand? I'm going to wait until it's over;wait till everything comes out, and then we can say, based off how this went, 'This was fair [or] this was not fair; or other actions that need to be taken."

With Tom Rock

New York Sports