The NFL has a problem.
Actually, the NFL has many problems, but one of the most pressing issues is the frequency of violent crimes and sexual assaults committed by NFL players. Many professional football players have been accused or convicted of felonies; last year, Aaron Hernandez of the New England Patriots was accused of murdering Odin Lloyd (the trial has not happened yet). Michael Vick was convicted of running a dog fighting ring, but he was eventually allowed back into the NFL. Most recently, Darren Sharper was accused of drugging and raping seven women in four states, but he is not the first. In 2009, David Meggett was convicted or rape. Lawrence Taylor was convicted in 2010. Rod Smith, Brett Favre, Ben Roethlisberger, Thomas Henderson and many others have also been accused, with varying consequences Why is there such a problem of violence and sexual assault in the NFL?
What distinguishes sexual assault from other violent crimes is society’s reluctance to believe the victims. Even when their favorite sports star is not being accused, women who have been raped are often probed with unnecessary questions such as, “What were you wearing?” and “Were you drinking?” There is a habit of victim blaming, and people are even more willing to blame the victim when they so desperately want to not blame their team’s quarterback or tight end. People in power—and athletes certainly have power—can abuse the power to escape convictions or accusations, and they feel this gives them the license to act in whatever manner they see fit, since there will be no consequences for people like them. The NFL has a rape problem. Celebrities have a rape problem. The world has a rape problem, but we pay more attention when someone famous is involved, and, sadly, we often take their side.