The offensive line coach who was at the center of last year’s NFL Misbehavior scandal, Jim Turner, has perhaps caught the essence of what has been missing in the last 10 days controversy about domestic abuse in the NFL – it is hard to expect gentile behavior from those you teach to be violent. Turner was the offensive line coach with the Miami Dolphins last season, when the team self destructed midst the bullying scandal of Richie Incognito and Jonathan Martin. Turner and Incognito were sacrificed to the NFL PR gods. Martin plays on.
Turner was interviewed on September 16, 2014 on the Mike and Mike radio show on ESPN radio. When asked whether it was fair to judge the language and behavior of Incognito towards Martin based upon other workplace standards, Turner said:
I would equate the locker room more to a construction work site than a corporate business center. You are dealing with guys in the average locker room – these are tough guys from rough backgrounds. Lets face it. You are talking about modern day gladiators. The game of football is basically gladiators on the football field. People want to see them go out there on Sunday afternoon and bloody each other up and you want them to put a tie on and be wholly civil during the weekdays. I don’t know.
Turner wasn’t speaking about domestic violence. He was speaking about being fired for his connection to the workplace misadventures of Incognito. Yet, what he said not only adds another piece to the controversy about domestic violence, child abuse allegations of NFL players, it also applies to one of the core contributors to those problems. The issue is violence. Not just against children. Not just against domestic partners. Not just against women. It is violence that begins with blocking and tackling.
Certainly, domestic violence is not unique to the NFL. It would be absurd to argue that domestic violence would exist without head injury. Yet, to ignore the role that the habit of violence and the result of that violence – brain injury and pain – has on violence outside the line, is absurd. Child abuse is passed on from generation to generation. One of the reasons for the inherited nature of child abuse is the learned the pattern of abuse from being a victim. But another contributor to that pattern is that the victim of child abuse has very likely suffered brain injury as a result of the abuse.
The correlation between brain injury and violence is undeniable. The correlation between brain injury and crime is undeniable. If we don’t want our children to grow up to be abusers, don’t subject them to violence, either in the home or while they are supposedly playing a game.