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Sheldon Richardson and the NFL’s culture of misogyny

Oct 17, 2016; Glendale, AZ, USA; New York Jets defensive end Sheldon Richardson (91) against the Arizona Cardinals at University of Phoenix Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports
Oct 17, 2016; Glendale, AZ, USA; New York Jets defensive end Sheldon Richardson (91) against the Arizona Cardinals at University of Phoenix Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports
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Sheldon Richardson’s latest Snapchat blunder has aggravated the New York Jets front office, coaches, and fans. Richardson’s immaturity notwithstanding, his comments reflect a toxic mentality toward women that is common throughout the NFL.

As surprising as it may seem, there is some more bad news for fans of the New York Jets. Between their atrocious record, the rapid decline of almost every veteran player on the roster, and the poor coaching, one would think that every conceivable bad thing has already happened to Gang Green.

Apparently, Sheldon Richardson never got that memo. The notorious troublemaker is already more famous for missed meetings, reckless driving, and failed drug tests than he is for on-field production. Now he’s at it again.

Prior to the Jets’ latest blowout loss, Richardson posted a profane video on Snapchat. There is no need to rehash the whole thing, but those curious for details can find more information here. Suffice to say, amidst the usual smattering of f-bombs, he casually employed a derogatory term for women.

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The lack of work ethic and commitment displayed by Richardson and several other high profile Jets players warrants pages of criticism. The Jets are a lazy, unmotivated, and undisciplined team. It’s not a new story, nor is it one that I particularly care to talk about any longer.

However, I do care about what Richardson’s comments say about the league as a whole. What may be dismissed as “locker room banter” by some is actually indicative of an institutional failure. Sexism is rampant throughout the NFL.

Consider the epidemic of violence against women in the league. An analysis conducted by statistical website FiveThirtyEight.com found that domestic violence related offenses make up a heavily disproportionate number of crimes committed by NFL players. In other words, domestic violence is far more prevalent in the league than would be expected.

Of course, the cavalier attitude towards domestic violence and sexual assault are not helping matters. When star players like Jameis Winston or Ben Roethlisberger (twice) are accused of sexual assault, the fans shrug their collective shoulders and continue to gawk at their on-field talents. Greg Hardy, despite terrorizing his girlfriend and covering her body in bruises, was given second chance after second chance by the league and its fans.

Still not convinced there’s a problem? Consider the bastion of “diversity” and “progress” that is the NFL. Despite making up half the population, the league had no female coaches or officials as recently as 2015. To this day, the NFL has 32 teams and no female general managers.

If the NFL was unapologetically a hostile place for women, that would be problem enough. But the league’s patronizing and hollow attempts to appeal to its female fans are beyond insulting.

The league claims to care about domestic violence. But the league’s mishandling of the Ray Rice saga showed that its decisions are managed by PR firms, not by a sense of morality or human decency.

Even the NFL’s breast cancer campaign, which sells pink merchandise to raise money for the American Cancer Society, is nothing more than empty promises. A recent review by Sports Illustrated found that less than 10% of proceeds actually goes to cancer research.

At least the NFL doesn’t even pretend to care about its glass ceiling problem. Ask any woman working in the industry, and you’ll be horrified by their stories. Sexual harassment and misogyny run rampant and unchecked. If someone, as accomplished as Erin Andrews, cannot work in a safe environment, what chance do other women working in sports have?

Next: How much humiliation can Woody withstand with Jets?

Enough is enough. I adore football. But by tuning in every Sunday, I know I’m selling a little bit of my soul. Most weeks, I can only hope that the screaming crowds and whistles drown out the cries of victims.

Their stories upset me, but the league’s apathy towards their suffering haunts me.

Enough is enough.

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