Low standards

NFL team deals with ‘outcry’ for signing player just days after domestic violence arrest

Former San Francisco 49ers linebacker Reuben Foster (Brace Hemmelgarn-USA TODAY Sports)

Just three days after NFL linebacker Reuben Foster lost his job following an arrest on a charge of domestic violence, he has already found a home with a new team — prompting outrage from many who suggested that the league is eager to ignore or dismiss players’ crimes against women so long as they perform well on the football field. Foster, who was released by the San Francisco 49ers over the weekend after being booked on a first-degree misdemeanor domestic violence charge in Florida over the weekend, was picked up off of waivers by the Washington Redskins on Tuesday.

Asked about the Redskins’ newest acquisition on Wednesday, Washington head coach Jay Gruden said that the team was willing to “deal with the outcry, so to speak,” and that there was no guarantee the linebacker would see the field for the team. Doug Williams, the team’s senior vice president of player personnel, added that “the Redskins fully understand the severity of the recent allegations made against Reuben.”

“If true, you can be sure these allegations are nothing our organization would ever condone,” said Williams. “Let me be clear, Reuben will have to go through numerous steps including the full legal process, an investigation and potential discipline from the NFL, as well as meetings with counselors associated with the team … Nothing is promised to Reuben, but we are hopeful being around so many of his former teammates and friends will eventually provide him with the best possible environment to succeed both personally and professionally.”

Sports journalists and social media users were unimpressed by the team’s justifications, noting that Foster had been arrested at least twice before — including on a disturbing felony domestic violence charge in April following an incident that allegedly left his girlfriend bruised and with a ruptured eardrum, although those charges were later dropped after the girlfriend abruptly chose to recant her testimony. In July, Foster was suspended without pay for the first two games of the 2018 season over a weapons offense and misdemeanor drug offense that were both resolved earlier this year.

“Will they try to tell their loved ones that it’s OK to turn a blind eye to domestic violence as long as a man has talent? With this move, that’s exactly what the Redskins are saying,” wrote columnist Mike Jones. Other commenters noted that while teams were apparently afraid of facing fan pushback over signing players such as quarterback Colin Kaepernick, who remains unemployed after protesting the national anthem, teams were evidently less concerned about the public “outcry” that comes from signing domestic abusers.

In recent years, the NFL has faced increasing pressure over how the league handles players accused of domestic violence. In 2014, running back Ray Rice was suspended for just two games after video emerged of him brutally punching his then-fiancee Janay Palmer and dragging her out of an elevator. In wake of public outrage, the league changed the punishment to an indefinite suspension. In 2016, Giants kicker Josh Brown was suspended for one game over a 2015 domestic violence arrest that was later closed without charges. The Giants later cut Brown after the release of letters and journal entries in which the kicker admitted to the abuse. Brown was subsequently suspended for six games by the league, and hasn’t played in the NFL since. According to The New York Post, the woman who has accused Foster of domestic violence is in hiding, but her lawyer says she is willing to cooperate with authorities.

Read the full story at CNN.

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