Mediator: Unfolding NFL Events Point to a Way Everyone Can Win

Kimberly Sands, a partner with Upchurch Watson White & Max, has been a civil litigator and has been involved with difficult and complex disputes as litigator or mediator for over 30 years. To schedule a mediation with Kimberly, please call her case manager, Cathy McCleary, at (800) 863-1462, or visit our online calendar.

Florida Mediator Kimberly Sands UWWM Partner Kimberly Sands

Obviously, I’ve been following the response to the Ray Rice story since I first wrote about it in this blog. Watching the NFL, ESPN, and other news agencies stumble through this incident and the mayhem that has ensued ironically may demonstrate how useful a professional neutral can be in many situations that don’t present as traditional “disputes.” In the midst of watching the issue of domestic violence as it unfolds within the sports community, two surprising voices have emerged.

In advance of the Ravens game on Thursday Night Football, CBS Sports anchor James Brown described the problem as "bigger than football, " and that the Rice case demands an "ongoing, comprehensive education of men of what healthy manhood is all about."

This is yet another call for men to stand up to take responsibility for their thoughts, their words, their deeds ... Our silence is deafening and deadly.

More recently, on ESPN's Sunday NFL Countdown, the Pro Football Hall of Fame wide receiver and retired Minnesota Viking, Cris Carter, responded to Vikings’ running back Adrian Peterson’s indictment for child abuse.

This goes across all racial lines, ethnicities, religious backgrounds. People in disciplining their children. People with any sort of Christian background, they really believe in disciplining their children ... My mom did the best job she could do raising seven kids by herself. But there are thousands of things that I have learned since then that my mom was wrong. This is the 21st century. My mom was wrong. She did the best she could, but she was wrong about some of that stuff she taught me. And I promised my kids that I won't teach that mess to them. You can't beat a kid to make him do what you want to do.

He expressed pride in the Vikings for deactivating Peterson after his indictment (He has since been reactivated and subsequently deactivated again). He also stated, in his opinion, there is only one way that NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell can punish players if he wants to get their attention.

The only thing I'm proud about is the team I played for, they did the right thing. Take them off the field … We're in a climate right now, I don't care what it is. Take them off the dang-gone field. Because you know what? As a man, that's the only thing we really respect. We don't respect no women. We don't respect no kids. The only thing Roger [Goodell] and them can do, take them off the field because they respect that.

So now Goodell is hiring four women to advise him on issues of domestic violence within the NFL. Let’s hope their professional orientation is mental health and not public relations. The issue is not who knew what when and what did they know, it’s how an organization addresses a very real problem within its ranks. Who knows, maybe the NFL can be motivated to develop a program that could be a model for all businesses and licensed professionals. As Mr. Brown noted, silence is deafening and deadly. The NFL has a great opportunity to lift the silence on this issue and help both its players and their families seek the help they need, and get these players back on the field. Everybody wins.

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