The NFL’s punishment of Jarran Reed says plenty about the scourge of domestic violence in our society, how inconsistently the NFL punishes its players for off-the-field incidents — and about the state of the Seahawks’ pass rush.
In that order of importance to day-to-day life.
A league source with knowledge of the reason for Reed’s six-game suspension by the league confirmed to The News Tribune Monday it stems from Bellevue Police investigating him for an alleged assault in April 2017 on an adult woman in a home.
Seattle’s top pass-rushing interior defensive lineman said “I totally disagree with the decision of the NFL.” He included that in an apology he posted on Twitter Monday afternoon.
KING-5 television reported in May 2017 sources close to the Bellevue Police Department told the TV station officers responded to a complaint from a woman who said Reed had assaulted her on April 27, 2017, at 3 a.m. at a home in Bellevue.
Ultimately, Reed was not charged nor arrested. Prosecutors declined to pursue the domestic-violence case.
Because of that, many believe Reed should not be suspended.
But the lack of charges or an arrest is not a confirmation an incident did or did not occur. No one knows exactly what happened, except Reed and his accuser.
A study by the Bureau of Justice Statistics, published in 2017, stated, “the United States’ primary source for criminal justice statistics,” stated an alleged domestic violence offender “was arrested or charged in about two out of every five victimizations reported to police...The victim or other household member signed a criminal complaint against the offender in about half (48 percent) of reported victimizations. When a victimization involved a serious injury and a criminal complaint was signed, the offender was arrested or charged 89 percent of the time.
“Domestic violence against females involving a serious injury (54 percent) was reported to police at about the same rate as domestic violence involving no injury (55 percent)...”
The report went on to specify that during the study’s 10-year period, 2006-15, an average of about 582,000 nonfatal domestic violence victimizations were not reported to police each year.
“In about a third (32 percent) of these unreported victimizations, victims cited the personal nature of the incident as a reason for not reporting it to police,” the Bureau of Justice Statistics found. “Some victimizations were not reported because the victim wanted to protect the offender (21 percent), felt the crime was minor or unimportant (20 percent) or feared reprisal from the offender or others (19 percent).”
The NFL conducted its own investigation of Reed. Its suspension announced Monday shows the league found enough happened on that early morning in April 2017 at that Bellevue home to warrant Reed losing 38 percent of his base salary and playing time in a contract year.
Not that the NFL is a model of consistent, equitable and easily-understood punishment for these types of cases.
Commissioner Roger Goodell has wide authority to suspend players for conduct outside of football. That includes for incidents that do not result in charges or arrests. Players and many others criticize Goodell and the league for that broad authority. They criticize their investigations and the league’s inconsistent, at times seemingly arbitrary enforcement of the NFL’s far-reaching personal conduct policy.
The NFL Players Association supported Ezekiel Elliott in his legal fight to overturn his six-game suspension in 2017 for domestic violence. While doing so the players’ union called the league’s disciplinary process against its players “a sham.”
“Our vigilant fight on behalf of Ezekiel once again exposed the NFL’s disciplinary process as a sham and a lie,” the NFLPA said in the fall of 2017, when courts ruled against Elliott and the Dallas Cowboys running back served the entire suspension. “They hired several former federal prosecutors, brought in ‘experts’ and imposed a process with the stated goal of ‘getting it right,’’ yet the management council refuses to step in and stop repeated manipulation of an already awful League-imposed system.”
Elliott’s legal fight centered on the NFL’s lead investigator of his case recommending he receive no suspension for the allegations made by Elliott’s former girlfriend.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback Jameis Winston got his NFL suspension for violating the personal conduct policy cut in half, from the league’s supposedly standard six games for a first-time offender. Winston was accused of grouping an Uber driver in Arizona in March 2016.
That investigation by the league, according to an NFL statement, “concluded that Winston violated the personal conduct policy by touching the driver in an inappropriate and sexual manner without her consent and that disciplinary action was necessary and appropriate.”
But Winston agreed to what the league called “a negotiated settlement,” and thus got only a three-game ban and loss in game checks.
Last week, the league announced it was not going to suspend Kansas City Chiefs two-time Pro Bowl wide receiver Tyreek Hill under the personal conduct policy. Hill had been barred from all Chiefs team-related activities after audio surfaced in April on which he discussed injuries suffered by his son. Hill told his fiancee she should be “terrified” of him during a recorded, 11-minute discussion that took place in an airport in Dubai.
After a four-month investigation, the NFL concluded Friday it could not find Hill violated the league’s personal conduct policy.
It certainly would help if the league had a black-and-white standard and set consistently set the same punishments for acts it deems violations of its personal conduct policy.
But domestic violence, one of the most common instances of personal conduct cases for the NFL, is absolutely not a black-and-white issue in our society.
Not for a victim who files a complaint then does not cooperate with police or prosecutors.
Not for a victim trying to get absolute justice in our system.
And not for those who have been wrongly accused.
Most fundamentally troubling about all this: the NFL is not a law-enforcement or criminal-justice entity, yet it is conducting the investigations and making the determinations of one.
No, the NFL is a multi-billion-dollar-per-year empire run by billionaires for maximum revenues. That’s its literal bottom line. Our systems of justice and law enforcement have huge problems fairly adjudicating domestic violence in our society. How can the NFL do better than the experts and laws set up in country to deal with the issue?
All this doesn’t help the third, far-less important issue here, one that is most immediate for the Seahawks: Who is going to rush the passer this season?
Reed skyrocketed from three total sacks his first two years in the league for Seattle to 10 1/2 last season. Without Reed and without Frank Clark getting a career-high 14 sacks in 2018, the Seahawks would not have made the playoffs.
For all of Russell Wilson’s magic to make plays in the passing game, despite how well Chris Carson, Rashaad Penny run the ball again this season behind an offensive line that created the league’s top rushing game of 2018, this is a passer-and-sack-the-passer league.
Seattle has the passer.
But the sack-the-passers?
The team traded Clark this offseason. The Seahawks decided they wouldn’t pay him the $20 million per year top edge sack guys now command. Now the Kansas City Chiefs are paying Clark that ($105.5 million for five years), and Seattle netted a first- and a second-round draft choice.
The Seahawks are going to use that nearly $20 million per year saved by trading Clark to re-sign All-Pro middle linebacker Bobby Wagner instead, perhaps in days or weeks.
Clark’s exit and Reed’s suspension leave the Seahawks will this on their 90-man preseason roster at outside and inside pass rushers on the defensive front.
It’s not much
Ziggy Ansah: Signed from Detroit this offseason for one year with $5.5 million guaranteed, the 30-year-old has 48 career sacks in six NFL seasons, all with the Lions. But the Seahawks don’t know when he is going to get on the field for them following shoulder surgery. It could be late August, or later. Ansah hasn’t played 500 or more snaps in a full season (31 snaps per game) since 2015, his breakout Pro Bowl year with Detroit.
Cassius Marsh: He signed back this offseason, after Seattle’s middle-round draft choice in 2014 played for New England and, the last two seasons, San Francisco. He has 11 1/2 sacks for three times in his five-year career. The most sacks Marsh has had in any season: 5 1/2, last year for the 49ers.
Branden Jackson: A part-timer with 1 1/2 sacks for two teams in three NFL seasons. He and Marsh were the starting defensive ends in Seattle’s offseason minicamp and organized team activities.
Jacob Martin: The team’s sixth-round pick in 2018 was an encouraging pass rusher in limited roles that increased as his rookie season went on last year. He had three sacks in a role that he will get a chance to expand greatly, beginning in training camp. He has shown the speed Seattle lacks off the edge, but, again, remains unproven.
Rasheem Green: Seattle drafted the USC defensive tackle-end in the third round last year envisioning him as an inside-outside pass-rushing end somewhat like Michael Bennett was in his Pro Bowl years for the Seahawks. But Green had just one sack in 10 games as a rookie. It’s time, starting Thursday when camp begins, for Green to show more.
Nazair Jones: Last season the Seahawks’ third-round pick from 2017 got snaps over undrafted rookie Poona Ford at defensive tackle when Seattle played passing teams. Ford got more of the plays when the Seahawks played running teams. Coaches like the 6-foot-5 Jones batting passes at the line of scrimmage. Reed’s suspension opens a big chance for Jones to win a larger role in 2019.
Quinton Jefferson: The Seahawks’ fifth-round pick in 2016 had good pressure numbers and three sacks in limited playing time last season. He had one sack in his first two NFL seasons before that.
Al Woods: A 32-year-old run-stopping defensive tackle. He has 4 1/2 sacks in nine NFL seasons.
Poona Ford: Last season’s undrafted rookie stud is also a run-stopping more than pass-rushing defensive tackle. He had zero sacks in 11 games for the Seahawks last year.
Jamie Meder: Another run-stopping, gap-clogging defensive tackle the Seahawks signed to improve upon allowing 4.9 yards per rush last season, the worst of the Pete Carroll coaching era. Meder has two sacks in three NFL seasons.
L.J. Collier: Seattle’s first-round draft choice this spring has shown to be more of an inside, power-rushing end than a speed rusher outside like Clark. Collier had one breakout season in college rushing the passer, last year for TCU. He was on the second-team defensive line during Seahawks minicamps and OTAs.
Demarcus Christmas: The rookie sixth-round pick from Florida State told us a few minutes after Seattle took him in April’s draft: “I’m a run stuffer.”
Bryan Mone: An undrafted rookie defensive tackle from Michigan.
Jay-Tee Tiuli: An undrafted rookie free agent from Eastern Washington.
That’s it. With Ansah out indefinitely, Reed suspended and Clark gone, the most sacks by any defensive lineman on the roster in any NFL season is Marsh’s 5 1/2, last year for San Francisco.
Beyond that, Seattle is counting on a pair of unproven second-year players and four rookies, two of whom went undrafted, for their pass rush.
How quickly, or if, they develop into pressuring quarterbacks will largely determine how this Seahawks season will go. So will whether the team can add an impacting pass rusher at the end of the preseason, when other teams cut high-priced veterans to trim rosters from 90 to 53 for the regular season.
The quarterbacks Seattle will be trying to defend in its first six games: Andy Dalton, Ben Roethlisberger, Drew Brees, rookie number-one overall pick Kyler Murray, Jared Goff and Baker Mayfield, last year’s top overall pick.
All without Clark and, now, Reed.