NFL athletes have long seemed to receive a pass when it comes to the social justice of the #MeToo movement and legal consequences for domestic violence.
In September Senator Richard Blumenthal wrote a condemning statement about NFL players being treated as exceptions to the law and common decency: "The NFL has failed to lead on the issue of domestic violence & sexual assault by its players. These heinous crimes must be taken more seriously with greater oversight & accountability." After the scandal surrounding Ray Rice's domestic abuse case highlighted the NFL's failure to act responsibly, media attention began signaling that "The Sports World Needs Its #MeToo Moment" and that the NFL needs to issue bans for violent behavior.
The Cleveland Browns, in a possible attempt to not grievously disappoint fans with their ethics as well as their performance, have waived Jermaine Whitehead after he made violent threats against fans and Dustin Fox, a former NFL player and Browns radio host, on Twitter. After Whitehead's poor performance was mocked on Twitter immediately following the Brown's loss to the Denver Broncos on Sunday, Whitehead lashed out at fans who criticized an easy missed tackle of Noah Fant.
He used violent and racial language such as, "Don't get shot at lil b*tch...can you whoop my ass f*ck football...let me know when you need the address," "CRACKER," and "Imma kill you b*tch...that's on blood."
In response, the Browns let Whitehead go. A spokesperson for the team issued the statement, "Jermaine Whitehead's social media posts following today's game were totally unacceptable and highly inappropriate. We immediately spoke with Jermaine upon learning of these comments. The Browns in no way condone that type of language or behavior. This matter will be further addressed internally."
It turned out that meant waiving the safety, which is frankly a surprisingly level-headed and socially responsible reaction by a team in a traditionally "tone deaf" league. Of course, Whitehead, 26, didn't think so. On Instagram he posted a self-pitying paragraph that laments his unfair treatment: "Crazy world. They line it up and say anything in the book too you," he said in the caption of a photo of himself walking outside with a suitcase in his right hand and a cast on the left one. "They tell you take the high road, when yo whole life you was taught to meet fire with fire. I do apologize for my performance, but having a broke hand and a strong fear of letting my team down is my downfall. Whatever happens happens. Ain trippin. They probably gone still talk crazy but this me getting smoke off my chest. I don't need one like.. this from me to me! Keep ya head up homie, can't nobody f--- with you. I dare em to try."