My name is Elizabeth BeShears, and I am one of the women you claim makes up 50 percent of the NFL’s viewership.
While college football is my first love, the NFL is a close second. From the first time my dad (who played Division 1 college football) explained to me how the down system worked when I was a little girl, I have soaked up every minute of football I possibly could. I play in two Fantasy Football leagues every year, and every Sunday afternoon finds me glued to the TV watching NFL Sunday ticket, keeping track of as much football as I possibly can. For about four months a year, my household lives and breathes football.
So when I heard that the NFL, under your leadership, only gave Baltimore Ravens running back Ray Rice a paltry two game suspension for being caught on tape dragging his wife out of an elevator after allegedly knocking her out cold, saying that I’m disappointed is a little bit of an understatement.
Sure, Rice will miss two games and sacrifice a few hundred thousand dollars, but his punishment would be laughable, if this wasn’t such a serious matter. For man who earned $24 million over the last two years, his suspension is barely a slap on the wrist. But it is when we compare his punishment to others is when it becomes clear just how lightly you and the NFL are taking this sort of behavior.
A few years ago you suspended Seattle Seahawks backup quarterback Tyrelle Pryor for five games, a third of his rookie season, for trading awards he’d won as a student athlete at Ohio State for tattoos.
Just this May, you suspended Arizona Cardinals inside linebacker Daryl Washington for the entire 2014 season after he tested positive for marijuana use. In fact, pot use is consistently punished more seriously than domestic violence.
Every October you force players to wear pink cleats and arm bands in an effort to show women how much you care about us, and every October you clean up from the sales of pink jerseys and other breast cancer awareness merchandise. In fact, only 8.01 percent of money spent on pink NFL merch actually ends up being used for breast cancer research.
I’m not the only female football fan who has noticed your duplicity. Ladies from across the country are speaking out about the difference in your words and actions when it comes to women’s issues.
According to the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence, one in four women will experience domestic violence in their lifetime. That is two times more than will suffer from breast cancer. An estimated 1.3 million women are abused by an intimate partner every year.
You may view me and other women as simply another market to be tapped, but until you begin taking domestic abuse seriously, you aren’t going to win any of us over. You see, this is a free market, and I can still get my football fix without giving you a dime.
My husband and I have already made the decision not to renew our subscription to NFL Sunday Ticket—which at $39.99 a month was the most expensive TV extra we buy—and you can rest assured that we won’t be contributing to your breast cancer awareness marketing gimmick, either.
If you really have any desire to reach out to women, you’ll reconsider how you approach the issue of domestic abuse. We’re watching you, and your actions on this matter could very well dictate the future of the NFL.
Elizabeth TR BeShears
Woman with a voice