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Zeke’s Personal Reputation at Stake vs “The Shield”

This morning the bombshell that’s been leaked for weeks finally hit. Zeke has been given a 6 game suspension. We’re all equally upset over this but understanding it, is hard to fathom. What’s been said to be confidential during the process has been anything but confidential and the leaks all have been coming from the league office. What frosts us is that the DA’s office found insufficient evidence to bring charges. They found the testimony to be changed by the girl from one questioning to the next. Now, I get it that the league doesn’t require the level of evidence that the legal system looks for to proceed. The league has listed this as a violation of the Personal Conduct Policy and is including other situations beyond the DV accusations. They are including the Mardi Gras like event where on video he did pull a woman’s top down and the bar room fight where he was inside the club and with no charges brought against him for even being part of that. Zeke’s a young man who’s facing a label that may or may not be true!

Why did it take a year to conclude this investigation? While I didn’t see Lisa Friel’s name attached to the investigation, she was hired by the NFL to oversee all DV situations. Where all of us should have issue with this is that. she’s a life long NYG fan & ticket holder, with Eli’s graphic mural on her wall at home. Her NYG punter, Josh Brown, as it turned out has a long history of DV and at the Pro Bowl the NFL security team had to come to the rescue of Brown’s wife, but he only got a 1 game suspension. Feel like you’re at a fish market, with day old fish? The question has come up about the incident happening prior to his being in the NFL, however, there was a supposed five day incident in late July of 2016 after he had been drafted which would make him subject to the NFL rules. The addition of his outside activities beyond the DV situation were also part of this decision.

A problem I have with all this is that other players have been in the news for the wrong reasons yet nothing is done to them. In many cases, I’m against punishing them for outside activities, but on a case by case basis. The DV part of this is a concern and should be fully verified 100% before putting such a label on a young man. It can’t be accepted without explicit proof and acceptance of culpability. I trust no one, in trumping up DV charges against an individual. The photos didn’t move the police department or DA to file charges but the NFL did take action based on this. Was Zeke the one who actually inflicted those injuries? Did she ask when do we leave for Dallas and learn she wasn’t going? You have to ask questions before judging blindly. I’ve been privy to stories like this albeit back in the 70’s where such things were inflicted by people other than the accused. Again its not a free pass, but I’d hate for a player to be punished if the claim is false.

The real downside to him individually is that if untrue, he’s labeled as someone who’s commited DV against a woman and will carry that stigma for life. That’s why it really has to be done through the legal system not through the NFL league office who is trying to protect the “shield” and show they’re politically correct. Noble, but at the expense of a 21 year olds lifetime reputation. To me, his reputation should not be subject to the league’s lower level of proof. To do this, to a young man, without absolute certainty, which was rejected by the DA, is despicable. Now he’s labeled for life and that’s all wrong!

Yes the monetary loss is significant and one that likely exceeds several millions of dollars. By my estimation its over 2M, not counting lost endorsement deals. His guarantees are gone, making a career ending injury a death sentence to his earnings. My concern is for the individual. If he were proven guilty, then the punishment is deserved. If DV can’t be proven in the judicial system then its unjust and detrimental to his name, his family’s name, his children one day, etc. Jourdan Lewis went to trial two weeks ago with the intent that he never be labeled as a person who committed domestic violence. He risked all to clear his name, even risking a jury trial, when he could have reached an agreement and had it simply go away. Do we realize that should any, I mean any woman make a similar claim to extort money from him in the future, he can be suspended from the league anywhere from indefinitely to permanently and perhaps, he never lifted a finger against anyone. Any situation that might arise of questionable behavior, legal entanglements and he can be permanently banned from the NFL.

Is this fair to Zeke without his day in court to carry this label, to have references to his name during future broadcasts, an infinite number of news story’s will preface the DV, all of this to just to protect the “shield”? Certainly he appeals this and well he should. But where will the NFLPA step in and hold the league accountable to prove beyond a reasonable doubt the basis for the punishment. I’m not talking about issuing a letter, but go to the courts to compel them to prove that he’s guilty. Not seeing that happen or else the DA would have filed charges! We love football, we enjoy the image, the shield, but not at the expense of a young mans name! Show us the proof Roger or don’t ruin the man’s reputation!


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