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Former NFL Exec: Hundreds of Domestic Violence Cases Covered Up

Jenny Kutner, Salon

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Oct. 10, 2014

"We knew it was wrong…For whatever reason, it just kind of got glossed over," the 30-year league vet told USA Today

former NFL executive told USA Today that during his 30 years with the league, teams covered up “hundreds and hundreds” of domestic violence cases, preferring to “handle them internally” by looking the other way. Jerry Angelo, former general manager of the Chicago Bears, expressed remorse over his role in protecting domestic abusers, all the while praising NFL commissioner Roger Goodell for his integrity — despite Goodell’s apparent failure to address players’ intimate partner violence without public scrutiny.

“I made a mistake,” Jerry Angelo told USA TODAY Sports. “I was human. I was part of it. I’m not proud of it.” He added, “We knew it was wrong… For whatever reason, it just kind of got glossed over. I’m no psychiatrist, so I can’t really get into what that part of it is. I’m just telling you how I was. I’ve got to look at myself first. And I was part of that, but I didn’t stand alone.”

According to Angelo, the typical response to a domestic violence incident was for team leadership to inquire if everybody was “OK,” then promptly move on. The motivation, he says, was linked directly to teams’ desire to keep players on the field and win games. “Our business is to win games,” Angelo said. “We’ve got to win games, and the commissioner’s job is to make sure the credibility of the National Football League is held in the highest esteem. But to start with that, you have to know who’s representing the shield.”

Angelo went on to suggest that Goodell “would never cover anything up,” specifically with regard to the Ray Rice domestic violence scandal that came to light last month. In February, Rice was arrested for allegedly assaulting his then-fiancée, for which Goodell suspended him for just two games. When video footage of Rice knocking his partner unconscious surfaced in September, however, public outrage forced the commissioner — who has maintained that he never saw the footage before it was released — to suspend the player indefinitely from the league. Law enforcement officials contend that they sent the incriminating footage to the NFL in April.

Goodell, who has faced calls to resign since the Rice incident, detailed the league’s updated personal conduct policy and standards for addressing domestic violence at the NFL owners’ meeting earlier this week, with additional changes expected to be announced before the Super Bowl. Clearly, a reorientation is needed because, as Angelo put it, “We got our priorities a little out of order.”