Dear Roger Goodell,
I don’t actually think you’ll read this open letter. As a 28-year-old woman, I’m not your target demographic. More than that, I feel fairly apathetic about sports in general, with a special disgust for football specifically. I’ve never attended an NFL game, nor do I ever want to do so. I could win tickets to the Super Bowl, the one NFL game I watch occasionally, and I would still give the tickets to my brothers.
But you, Roger Goodell, as the NFL commissioner, are a symbol of everything wrong with the NFL. This letter is thus a symbolic gesture as well. You probably won’t read my letter to you, but other people will. If I can challenge just one person to think more critically about anything I write, then this open letter will have served its purpose.
Tell me, Roger Goodell. Do you know what month October is?
October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month. You do know that, I’m sure, based on the pink gear some NFL players wear this month. I’ve heard about the “A Crucial Catch campaign.” My late grandmother was a breast cancer survivor. I can’t fault anyone who wants to raise awareness for cancer screenings and money for cancer research. I know that some NFL players have family members affected by breast cancer. I’m sure their participation in Breast Cancer Awareness Month is genuine.
According to the NFL website, y’all have raised about $8 million for the American Cancer Society since 2009. That’s awesome. Yay cancer research. $8 million is a lot of money that can do a lot of good.
Then again, you alone make about $30 million a year. (Or it is $44 million now?) Suddenly $8 million in 5-6 years just seems a lot less impressive. In fact, it almost seems like your pinkification of October football is just a women-friendly PR stunt.
But hey, I don’t work for the NFL’s marketing team, so what do I know?
You’re aware that October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month. Awesome.
It’s also Domestic Violence Awareness Month.
Did you know that, Roger Goodell?
Either you didn’t know that, or you just didn’t care about it. I mean, apparently you can only recognize domestic violence after TMZ publicly releases a video of a football player knocking his fiancée unconscious. But hey, at least you acknowledged, eventually, that you royally fucked up.
I didn’t get it right. Simply put, we have to do better. And we will… Domestic violence and sexual assault are wrong. They are illegal. They are never acceptable and they have no place in the NFL under any circumstances.
And hey hey hey! I hear you’re trying to atone for your sins! That is awesome.
The NFL has made a five-year, $25 million commitment to the National Domestic Violence Hotline. I mean, that five-year promised donation is still less than you, Roger Goodell, personally make in one year, but it’s a start.
The NFL has also instituted a no-tolerance policy for domestic violence. The first offense warrants a six-game suspension; the second offense, banishment.
Terry Bradshaw gives his heartfelt viewpoint on Greg Hardy's domestic abuse case. https://t.co/LfMelAXzmj
— FOX Sports: NFL (@NFLonFOX) October 11, 2015
I think you can do better. I think the NFL can do better. Roger Goodell, I think it’s past time to stop acting like you care about women and start actually caring about women.
Next October, I challenge you to participate in Domestic Violence Awareness Month just as fully as you have in Breast Cancer Awareness Month. I challenge your players to participate in community initiatives to raise awareness for domestic violence and to provide support for survivors of domestic violence. I challenge the NFL to step up and use your influence for good.
Tell me, Roger Goodell.
What will you do?
P.S. Full disclosure, the rates of domestic violence among NFL players is less than among American men in the same age group. That said, it’s still the number one cause of arrests among NFL players.