How the NFL Taught 21.5 Million People About Domestic Violence

Whoever would have thought the National Football League would get the country talking about domestic violence? Certainly not me, given the league’s tragic history of overlooking players’ violent interpersonal abuses. But over the last two weeks, television and social media have been flooded with images, stories, and opinions about domestic violence. As a result (at the very least) 21.5 million people have heard poignant and heart-felt statements about the complexities of abuse.

CBS Sports Broadcaster James Brown delivered this powerful call to men during the wildly popular debut broadcast of “Thursday Night Football” which drew 17.34 million viewers to the network.

The fact that more than 20 million people tuned in to the Ravens-Steelers game gives me great comfort (NFL Network’s broadcast of the game drew an additional 3.43 million). This eloquent speech is one of the most moving statements I have ever heard and to know so many people saw this is fantastic. Even more, the Ravens are the very team that cut Ray Rice, the very person who sparked this current wave of awareness. Yes, there were many fans — men and women — in the stands wearing Rice jerseys, but to know this statement was made in the very same stadium is very cool. Domestic violence must to be brought into the open and discussed publicly before it can end.

Meredith Vieira then brought her 4.1 million viewers into the conversation yesterday on her NBC talk show. Taking a cue from the current Twitter #whyistayed movement, Vieira shared her own domestic violence history in this candid statement.

Her final words bear repeating, “I just know it’s rampant in this country. We all have to accept the fact that it’s not just an issue with the NFL. Its’ an issue in all of our lives and until we take it seriously more and more women are going to get abused. Not question about it.” [My note: more and more children will be abused as well.]

Thank you to everyone who is keeping this conversation going. Many lives, literally, depend on us breaking the silence.



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