So, we survived our encounter with Hurricane Fiona. As I write this, we have been without power for over 24 hours, and it might be days before we have it restored. We have a generator powering our fridge and chest freezers, as well as our internet. The main thing is that we’re all safe and healthy.
I only have one thing to talk about in this week’s intro, and that is the suspension of KC LB Willie Gay for “four games without pay for violation of the NFL's personal conduct policy.”
I wrote extensively about Gay in January of this year. Despite numerous media reports, both then and now, that gloss over Gay’s offence as everything from “misdemeanor property damage,” to “breaking a vacuum during an argument with his child’s mother,” the incident in question is much more serious than that.
Here is an excerpt from one of my January columns which describes the incident at hand:
KC linebacker Willie Gay was arrested this past Wednesday. Much of the media coverage of this has been misleading, with many headlines emphasizing the charge, which officially is “Criminal Damage of less than $1000.” I’ve even seen some headlines that said something along the lines of, “Willie Gay arrested for breaking a vacuum cleaner.”
If you’re willing to read the articles, or watch the news reports, you might eventually discover that this incident is considered “domestic violence-related,” that the incident took place at the home of his child’s mother, and that Gay damaged a vacuum, a wall, and a door frame.
I did find one report that detailed the victim’s report of the incident. According to the victim, Gay came over to her home after being asked not to, refused to leave, verbally abused her, shoved her, took her phone and hung up on the 911 dispatcher after she had called for help, threw her phone against the wall, and smashed her vacuum, then left before police arrived.
The victim has applied for a protective order, citing this incident, as well as alleging past incidences of physical and verbal abuse and threats.
Gay has a history of violence. In college, he was kicked out of games for it and suspended. He assaulted a teammate, causing serious injury.
Willie Gay should not be playing today. Is he going to have to put her in the hospital before he’s held accountable? Does he have to kill her?
Despite the team and the league being fully aware of this, Gay was allowed to play in KC’s divisional playoff game against Buffalo.
The column in which that excerpt appeared was one of my most read columns of the season, and it provoked a lot of feedback. While most were appalled, some said it was no big deal, made excuses, or even praised Gay.
In the following week’s column, I wrote this:
So, last week’s column got around a bit, thanks in large part to my dear friend Chad. Reaction to the article was generally positive, judging by the comments I saw. A lot of people are fed up with the attitude that the league and teams have with regards to good players who behave badly. Many people simply aren’t aware of the extent that KC has gone to in order to have the players they want on the field.
The reaction wasn’t all positive, however. Whenever I write something like this, I’m fascinated by how fans of the team I’m criticizing will twist themselves into logical knots trying to justify the team’s actions, and/or their personal fandom.
More disturbing were some of the responses to Gay’s arrest. One commenter opined that he (Gay) “… broke a vacuum and hit a wall.. gimme a break.” When challenged by another commenter, the guy fell back on weak, tired arguments around the ideas of innocent until proven guilty, and how much good the team does for the community. This person is an idiot.
Worse, another commenter was appalled by my criticism of Gay’s actions, saying that Gay had, in fact, done “the right thing” by merely damaging property instead of hitting his child’s mother. Anyone who thinks this way should be put on an island somewhere with other men of his ilk.
This should go without saying, but here I go anyway…
Any man (particularly if they are 6’1” and 240+ pounds) who goes to a woman’s home uninvited, verbally abuses her, and smashes her property, has not done “the right thing.” Any of these actions is abusive, violent, and threatening. Just because he hasn’t hit her doesn’t mean he hasn’t harmed her. And as for predicting the future, far too many women know this story by heart, and they know how it usually ends.
When Gay’s suspension was announced, many on social media questioned the unfairness of the suspension for so minor an offense, or expressed confusion or outrage as to the timing of the suspension; Gay’s court appearance to answer for the charges was in June, well before the beginning of the season, yet he played in KC’s first two games.
As much as I tend to call out bad fan behaviour, in a way, I find it hard to blame some of these fans. Most do not know the seriousness of the actual incident. For this, I blame the mainstream sports media, which long ago abdicated its responsibility to do sports journalism, and instead became cheerleaders for the league. Most of the stuff I find out about players like Gay I have to look really hard for, and it is local journalists who are doing the real work. In a time when fans want and expect their information quickly, they read a headline or a pull quote and move on. Big-time sports media is not journalism; it’s fluff.
That’s why tweets like this one are so incredibly irresponsible:
It’s awfully curious how the league goes to such pains to downplay an incident of misconduct by a player off the field, while at the same time punishing the player severely (four game cheques is no small sum). It’s almost as if the league knows how serious and awful the offense actually was.
Believe me, the league knows.
The league could use incidents of player violence against women as an opportunity to make a statement that could have a real, positive effect on society. Instead, the NFL tries to sweep it under the rug, while punishing the player severely enough so that he learns his lesson.
And make no mistake, that lesson is this: Don’t embarrass the league.
Week Three Picks
Winners in Bold
New Orleans at Carolina
New Orleans’s offense is banged-up, but Carolina’s is rounding into form. Watch for a big day from Christian McCaffrey.
Houston at Chicago
This Houston team has heart.
KC at Indianapolis
Indy’s offense, based on what we’ve seen this season, can’t keep up with KC.
Buffalo at Miami
The loss of S Micah Hyde is an incredibly huge deal for Buffalo’s defense, for the season, and specifically for this matchup against Miami’s built-for-speed offense. There’s definitely upset potential here.
Detroit at Minnesota
Detroit’s offense is humming, and Minnesota’s defense is not.
Baltimore at New England
Eventually, the Pats are going to have to take the training wheels off Mac Jones. This isn’t the week, though. Lots of power running, plus the occasional seam route or cross to a TE will eat clock and keep Lamar Jackson off the field.
Cincinnati at New York (Green)
Cincy has been a disappointment. If they lose this one, I’ll downgrade them to “disaster.”
Las Vegas at Tennessee
Two teams with high hopes, both sitting a 0-2. If I had any say in Tennessee’s offense, I’d use WR Josh Gordon to try and resurrect their play-action passing attack.
Philadelphia at Washington
Philly’s offense looks like the real deal thus far.
Jacksonville at Los Angeles (Bolts)
Jacksonville has shown some promise, but this is a game that the Bolts have to win, even if Justin Herbert’s ribs are sore.
Los Angeles (Horn) at Arizona
Arizona’s best chance in this one is if LA’s defense wears itself out in the first half chasing Kyler Murray.
Atlanta at Seattle
I like Atlanta’s offense here much better than Seattle’s.
Green Bay at Tampa
A game featuring two legendary QBs, that will appropriately be decided by which QB successfully handles the other team’s exceptional defense.
San Francisco at Denver
San Fran is probably better off with Jimmy Garoppolo.
Dallas at New York (Blue)
The key to a game like this one is not to look at Dallas without Dak and chalk it up as an automatic W. New York has seen enough adversity lately to make them less susceptible to overconfidence.