Hannah Storm Demands Answers From The NFL On Zero Tolerance

Posted: Sep 14 2014, 9:27pm CDT | by , Updated: Sep 14 2014, 9:44pm CDT, in Latest Sports News


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Hannah Storm Demands Answers From The NFL On Zero Tolerance
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The sports week started with the full video of Ray Rice abusing Janay Rice and ended with Minnesota Vikings' Adrian Peterson indictment over child abuse charges. Hannah Storm's looking for answers on what's considered intolerable in the NFL.

Hannah Storm swept through sports media with her honest evaluation on how to really consider the National Football League and the rights of victims. Initially speaking on the topic of Ray Rice's indefinite suspension from the NFL and being cut by the Baltimore Ravens, the sports anchor drove the point home even more by not shying away from intended and committed actions.

“What exactly does the NFL stand for?"

When speaking about the league's disastrously handling of the Rice case, she opens up about her involvement with the sport for over 30 years. Roger Goodell's light sentencing earlier this summer of only two games was marginally blasted by the media.

However when information spread that the league seemingly avoided watching the video to maintain plausible deniability, fans, media, and even athletes called for an investigation on Goodell's ability to conduct his job as commissioner. This is the man who has seen the bounty scandal for the New Orleans Saints blow up in his face, showing a lack of consistency on what "zero tolerance" means.

Goodell holds no regrets over the punishment, since the coaches and organization had actually set up a bounty program where players and the organization offered payment on injuring an opponent through a pool. (The four suspended players’ punishment was overturned by a league investigation in December 2012.) The focus is mainly on the lack of recognition of the league in understanding the seriousness—on all levels.

"I think my biggest regret is that we aren't all recognizing that this is a collective responsibility to get them out of the game and make the game safer."

So the precedence of punishment has been established, but the doling out seems to be scattered. Which is exactly what Storm observed in her opinion on what makes the league so great. How can a sport organization, not just individual teams, be great if the spouses and children are left unsafe in their homes?

Goodell openly admitted to making a mistake in offering the paltry two games when the video of Ray dragging his then-fiancee (now wife) Janay Palmer out of an elevator surfaced on Monday. What did the commissioner think happened? A friendly game of hit the head into the elevator walls and see who passes out? And that Rice couldn't lift his partner when the player regularly goes against players much larger on the field?

Storm's eldest daughter started a fantasy league this year. A first for the daughter and something that the anchor was excited for. After all, here was a chance to incorporate a young fan into the 45% crowd of other female-gendered fans. Three decades of working in the sports field offered a lot wisdom to the newbie in the world of fantasy. And a chance to bond and watch a fan become deeper involved in the culture through new eyes.

Instead conversations took a darker turn when Storm had to explain the video released last Monday on air—where the world witnessed the violence against Janay Rice committed by someone who supposedly loved and pledged to protect her.

The excitement of discussing the upcoming season turned to pain when as a woman, the caster had to tell the story of an abused spouse that the league had previously considered to be unimportant. The only reason Ray Rice faced any consequences at all was to the media outrage and skeptical response that the league had in fact done a thorough investigation of what really happened.

"But at breakfast this week, instead of discussing how her team was doing, we watched the Ray Rice video again in all its ugliness." When her daughter asked why this happened, Storm had few answers to offer. "I spent this week answering seemingly impossible questions about the league's biggest stars."

NFL is the national sport. The world seems to stop during football season since Saturday's devoted to college and Sunday professional. Sports media talks nonstop, while premium networks like HBO and Showtime devote a large portion of their coverage to whatever is happening in the league. And CBS Sports just started showing Thursday Night Football, so the broadcasting world's a little bit larger.

Gooddell's lack of prompt, transparent actions will affect those spending money in the league. Many daughters, wives, sisters, cousins, and granddaughters spend time bonding with other people over football.

Storm's voice shakes when reliving the unanswerable questions that her daughter asks. Questions many people have asked repeatedly. Does abuse only count when the world witnesses the behavior? Or does "zero tolerance" mean just as he says? How can a woman root for an organization that very clearly finds them disposable? All that matters to the league is if the game continues on.

"What exactly does "zero tolerance" mean to the NFL? What does it mean to the coaches? The GMs? The owners? What about the NFLPA?” Concerning the NFL Players Association (NFLPA), does mental and emotional stability count as a player association problem in a league boiling over with credibility issues?

Storm's daughter asked the biggest question, the one everyone's looking for an answer to: "Why don't they have control of their own players?"

And that's the crux.

Ray Rice’s suspension has only been the beginning of the season. Earlier this week, Adrian Peterson from the Minnesota Vikings scored an indictment for abusing his child while on vacation at his home in Houston. The pictures are graphic, even at a-week-old. The Vikings suspended the player for Sunday's game and will decide status by Monday. Will he face harsh charges? No one knows.

"So here's a question: So what does all this mean for the future? What does it mean for female fans whose dollars are so coveted by the NFL? Who make up an estimated 45% of the NFL's fan base. Are fans—are families—are we as parents supposed to compartmentalize everything that's happening? Are we simply supposed to separate a violent game on the field from violent acts off the field? And if we do, what message does that send?"

Targeted violence against children’s been a big discussion for the past decade. Parents are encouraged to protect their children. But how do you protect a child from a wealthy, affluent parent in a system and organization that punishes on whimsical ruling.

League players, ones expected to commiserate and defend each other, are looking elsewhere.

The Washington Post's article on the NFL's credibiltiy offered up Philadelphia Eagles' Jason Kelce critiques on 94WIP.

Kelce believes the NFL's "lying and misleading people" about Rice and thinks the cover up hasn't provided "a concrete explanation as to what they’re doing." Even bluntly stating, "I can’t believe that an organization with billions of dollars and this tape is running out there through law enforcement and through media outlets that they somehow couldn’t get their hands on the tape."

And that's not mentioning Carolina Panthers' Greg Hardy, who's out the game, and San Francisco 49ers’ Ray McDonald, who played against the Bears earlier Sunday afternoon. Each player is currently involved in a domestic violence case. Meanwhile, Goodell's gone silent and Storm has no answers to her daughter's questions.

Instead she's adding to the list.

"Will the NFL in all its power take the lead on the domestic violence? In the NFL apparently "seeing is believing." If the NFL and Ravens had to see that video to be moved to significant action then those who support the league demand the same? To see action, to see change, before believing?

As we all wait on the answer to this central question, what exactly does the NFL stand for?"

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