Today, former NFL GM Jerry Angelo confirmed our worst fears about the NFL's handling of domestic abuse incidents over the past 30 years. Speaking with USA TODAY Sports, Angelo said that the NFL ignored "hundreds and hundreds" of incidents of domestic abuse during his time as a league executive. Angelo served as the GM for Chicago Bears from 2001 to 2011. Prior to his time in Chicago, he served in various roles for the New York Giants, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, and the Dallas Cowboys.
According to Angelo, the league's discipline process typically consisted of asking, "OK, is everybody OK? Yeah. How are they doing? Good. And then we'd just move on. We'd move on.'' It was lax, to say the least.
Even worse, Angelo's justification for the process was morally bankrupt. USA TODAY reports:
Angelo said he did not report to the league cases of domestic violences involving players because disciplinary action would have put his team at a competitive disadvantage.
"Our business is to win games," Angelo said. "We've got to win games, and the commissioner's job is to make sure the credibility of the National Football League is held in the highest esteem. But to start with that, you have to know who's representing the shield.''
"We got our priorities a little out of order,'' he said.
Angelo cites the recent Ray Rice fiasco as a turning point for his feelings on the matter. Tank Johnson, a former NFL lineman for the Chicago Bears from 2004 to 2006, echoed Angelo's statements.
"Looking at the Ray Rice situation, it's got to make everybody step back and say, 'OK, how many times has this happened and it's gone unreported?' " Johnson said. "And how many times have we overlooked this?
However, when speaking on the specifics of the Ray Rice incident, Angelo was hesitant to make any accusations about NFL commissioner Roger Goodell.
Angelo praised Goodell for his integrity — "He would never cover anything up,'' he said — but said the league's failure to obtain the video made it look like "they were just trying to cover their ass.''
Whether Angelo is correct on that final note remains to be seen. However, his revelations are both discouraging and highly indicative of how exactly the NFL got itself into the current situation it's facing. The culture of denial within the NFL is clearly a long and winding road.
[via USA TODAY Sports]