When it comes to violent crime, there is seemingly no pattern to the way in which the NFL deals out punishment.
This Sunday, Josh Gordon started in his first NFL game since 2014. His story is an odyssey of wasted potential. After getting kicked off the team at Baylor for dealing marijuana, Gordon declared for the NFL supplemental draft in 2012. He was then picked up by the Cleveland Browns, playing just one full season before his drug and alcohol habits caught up to him and started earning him suspensions. Even missing two games in the 2013 season, Gordon was electric, leading all wide receivers in total yardage. After failing a test for alcohol (he was previously convicted for a DUI), Gordon faced a year long suspension going into 2015. He was subsequently denied reinstatement after failing a drug test in 2016. He then checked into a rehab facility, checked out, and then was denied reinstatement again in May of 2017. Now he's back, and in his first game, he had 4 catches for 85 yards and was heavily involved in the offense. While he showed flashes of brilliance on Sunday, it's unclear whether or not he's going to be the same player as he was in 2013, and it's not particularly useful to speculate. That being said, Josh Gordon's case gives us an opportunity to explore all of the strange inconsistencies in the way the NFL deals with players who break the law.
The idea that star players get preferential treatment is well-worn territory; but to say that the NFL has a double standard regarding suspensions would imply that the league's behavior falls into some sort of discernible pattern when it comes to dealing with criminal misconduct. It doesn't. The NFL personal conduct policy is, in a word, insane. Compared to the 41-page substance abuse manual, the personal conduct policy is minuscule. The league has absurd standards for meeting drug-testing schedules and for what constitutes marijuana abuse, but when it comes to sexual misconduct or violent crimes, the league has a single .pdf document. Players accused of violent crimes can be put on paid leave. If the player is found guilty of a violent charge or if the NFL investigation determines that he's in violation of the league's policy, he is then given a mandatory six-game (unpaid) suspension. A second offense results in banishment from the NFL. That said, the NFL has been known to bend and (in some cases) flatly ignore its own policy rules. The weird thing is, these inconsistencies don't always work in favor of the players.
For example, Ezekiel Elliott was recently accused of domestic violence by his ex-girlfriend Tiffany Thompson. Despite the NFL's lead investigator suggesting that he be let off, Zeke was given a six game suspension. While there was some photographic evidence, Elliott was never charged with a crime. In this case, the NFL probably made the right decision. There were photographs. There were several police reports. That being said, the whole thing felt like a make-up call for commissioner Roger Goodell's bungling of the Ray Rice case in 2014. Zeke's suspension wasn't about Tiffany Thompson. It was an attempt by Goodell to rebuild his own image. Rice's case was particularly horrifying because he was only suspended by the NFL after a video was released by TMZ of him assaulting his future wife Janey Palmer in an elevator.
The suspension was later repealed, but no team was willing to take the PR hit associated with signing Rice after the video of his assault went viral. There was speculation that Goodell saw the tape before TMZ released it but the evidence was inconclusive. Regardless, Goodell's mishandling of that situation landed him in hot water and Elliott's misconduct provided him the perfect opportunity to redeem himself.
The NFL's inconsistencies when handling conduct violations aren't isolated to Ezekiel Elliott's case however. Ray Lewis was accused of double homicide in 2000. He was never suspended. He was given a hefty $250,000 fine by the league for obstructing justice, but he was able to continue playing and went on to become the Super Bowl MVP the following year. This is a far cry from Aaron Hernandez's treatment in 2013, when the New England Patriots dropped him days after his arrest. While Lewis' charge was before the sweeping policy changes of 2007, he nevertheless played until 2012. It's unclear whether his homicide charge would have counted as a first offense if he ever found himself embroiled in another controversy. In Lewis' case, it's impossible to tell but when talking about players who have broken league policy multiple times, no one really comes close to Cincinnati Bengals cornerback, Adam 'Pacman' Jones.
In 2007, Jones was involved in one of the strangest scandals in modern sports history. Following the NBA All Star Game, Jones was out at a Vegas strip club with the rap artist Nelly (yes that Nelly). Nelly was reportedly 'making it rain' when Jones joined in and started throwing hundreds of dollar bills at the stage for 'visual effect'. A club promoter named Chris Mitchell told his dancers to collect the money. Jones became enraged because a dancer took his money without asking him permission and reportedly slammed her head into the stage. Jones and his entourage then had an altercation with the club's security. While all this was going on, Chris Mitchell ran off with a bag of $81,000 that belonged to Jones. Later that night, a member of Jones' entourage returned to the club with a gun and open-fired on the crowd inside. Jones was charged with felony coercion and a misdemeanor battery charge. After this incident, Jones became the first player suspended by the newly-appointed commissioner, Roger Goodell. Jones missed the entirety of the 2007 season.
What's strange is, this wasn't the first time Jones broke the law and by extension league policy. In the two years prior to this event, Jones was arrested on five separate occasions. Two of them were for assault. Since the incident in 2007, Jones has been arrested for assault on another two occasions, as well as several charges for disorderly conduct. One of his assault charges came this year, but oddly enough, Jones only received a one game suspension. According to the NFL's own policy guide, Jones should have been banished from the league on multiple occasions.
In case you were wondering whether or not Jones is an anomaly, here is a list of players who were arrested for violent crimes in the past year and the NFL's reaction to these arrests:
Michael Bowie- Charge: Domestic violence, League action: Suspended six games, dropped by New York Giants
Tramaine Brock- Charge: Domestic violence, League action: N/A
Ethan Westbrooks- Charge: Domestic violence, League action: N/A
Roy Miller- Charge: Domestic battery, League action: dropped by Kansas City Chiefs
Rey Maualuga- Charge: Battery, League action: dropped by Miami Dolphins
Dante Fowler- Charge: Battery, League action: N/A
Sean Smith- Charge: Assault, League action: N/A
Damien Wilson- Charge: Assault with a deadly weapon, League action: N/A
Lorenzo Mauldin- Charge: Assault, League action: N/A
Michael Oher- Charge: Assault, League action: N/A
Darrelle Revis- Charge: Aggravated assault, League action: N/A
Of the eleven players on this list, only three faced repercussions for their actions. All three were dropped by their respective teams. The only player that the NFL suspended was Michael Bowie. He's now a free agent. When comparing the conservative way in which the NFL dealt out suspensions this year to Goodell's handling of the Ezekiel Elliott case, the inconsistency is extremely apparent. Elliott was never arrested. An internal NFL investigator also recommended that Elliott not be suspended, but he was.
When you look at this list, it's easy to argue about preferential treatment for star players. Darrelle Revis is practically royalty. Michael Oher, despite being a free agent, has a Super Bowl ring and an Oscar winning film about his life. But one look at Elliott, who is a bigger star than anyone on this list, and that argument falls apart. On top of this, everyone on this list was arrested. If a player can be suspended without being arrested, then it should be much easier to suspend players who were taken into police custody, especially if they were arrested for violent crimes. Shouldn't it?
The NFL's dedication to keeping its players marijuana-free, no matter how misguided, is a testament to their abilities to administer and enforce strict guidelines. 13 players have been suspended for substance abuse this year alone. Josh Gordon's issues with marijuana and alcohol are certainly extreme, but he's been out of the league for three years. Nothing he's done during his time in the NFL compares to aggravated assault with a deadly weapon. Gordon hasn't committed domestic violence. Gordon hasn't been convicted of any violent crimes during his time in the NFL. Yet somehow, Gordon has been suspended longer than every player on the above list combined. Somehow, Pacman Jones is still getting plenty of playing time. The NFL is entirely capable of cracking down on violent crimes committed by their players. They could easily deal out a mandatory six-game suspension, outlined in their own personal conduct policy, whenever a player is arrested for a violent crime. The problem is, this would make too much sense.
POPDUST Picks | Week 14:
- New Orleans over Atlanta
- Green Bay over Cleveland
- Detroit over Tampa
- Kansas City over Oakland
- Minnesota over Carolina
- Buffalo over Indianapolis
- Cincinnati over Chicago
- Dallas over N.Y. Giants
- Tennessee over Arizona
- N.Y. Jets over Denver
- Philadelphia over L.A. Rams
- L.A. Chargers over Washington
- Jacksonville over Seattle
- Pittsburgh over Baltimore
LOCK of the Week:
- New England over Miami
- San Francisco over Houston
Matt Clibanoff is a writer and editor based in New York City who covers music, politics, sports and pop culture. His editorial work can be found in Inked Magazine, Pop Dust, The Liberty Project, and All Things Go. His fiction has been published in Forth Magazine. -- Find Matt at his website and on Twitter: @mattclibanoff
POP⚡ DUST | Read More…
- The NFL's Violent Crime Problem ›
- Why Aren't We Talking About What This Study Discovered About ... ›
- The NFL has a serious violence problem - Chicago Tribune ›
- The Rate of Domestic Violence Arrests Among NFL Players ... ›
- 15 NFL players arrested for violence against women in last two years ›
- There Are 44 NFL Players Who Have Been Accused of Sexual or ... ›
The iconic crooner turns 33 today
Frank Ocean's intentionally elusive character has been a key ingredient in his rise as one of the last decade's most influential artists.
"If I start to tell a story and then I decide not to tell the story anymore, I can stop. It's my story," he told W Magazine last September. "The expectation for artists to be vulnerable and truthful is a lot, you know?"
The idea of staying true to yourself may not sound inherently groundbreaking, but for the last near-decade, Frank Ocean has spoken almost exclusively through his music, at times sprinkling loosies online merely for the sake of getting something off his chest. "There's something that happens when you say what you're doing before it's done," he said to W. "You're accountable for that version that you talk about... It's usually better for me to make what I make, put it out or don't, and then talk about it freely."
Wildfire<span style="display:block;position:relative;padding-top:56.25%;" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="d8fc3f180510c425031e86829f9a20d0"><iframe lazy-loadable="true" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/G6z7c-nIQ6M?rel=0" width="100%" height="auto" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" style="position:absolute;top:0;left:0;width:100%;height:100%;"></iframe></span><p>On the severely underappreciated return-to-form John Mayer project <em>Paradise Valley</em>, Frank Ocean coos about a passionate love affair over the chirp of late-night peeper. While the brief interlude is over in a little over a minute, it's a transporting few moments and conjures up the all-consuming sensuality that comes with a fleeting summer romance. The track was also a coy ode to French model Willy Cartier, who the singer was rumored to be dating at the time.</p>
Bitches Talkin' / Songs For Women<span style="display:block;position:relative;padding-top:56.25%;" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="5fd567794c7eb788b01a2cb053354d95"><iframe lazy-loadable="true" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/_09OZPldk_g?rel=0" width="100%" height="auto" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" style="position:absolute;top:0;left:0;width:100%;height:100%;"></iframe></span><p>Over a slick infusion of lo-fi surf rock and '80s synth-pop, Frank Ocean grinds out memorable bars and shows welcomed versatility as a rapper and singer. He explores a newfound love affair, and over the course of the song, watches it deteriorate as he prioritizes making music, but the singer never changes his mind. He understands his music will make women swoon, but at the end of the day, they remain unable to relate to his lifestyle.</p>
Pilot Jones<span style="display:block;position:relative;padding-top:56.25%;" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="5e43aaa5ce9277ac381309e8b8061aad"><iframe lazy-loadable="true" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/azgDZ-TBCzk?rel=0" width="100%" height="auto" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" style="position:absolute;top:0;left:0;width:100%;height:100%;"></iframe></span><p>The glitchy <em>Channel Orange </em>deep-cut "Pilot Jones" once again finds Frank offering stream-of-consciousness anecdotes about another relationship. The love affair is undoubtedly toxic, and Frank's voice weaves in and out of various tempos and pitches, his voice at times shaky and unguarded then clear and pristine. </p><p>His voice wavers and stumbles with an almost drunken elegance as electronic clicks and wurrs gently push him along. He is trying to bring himself down to his partner's level, a prospect he ultimately fails to achieve. It's an absorbing track that shows that Frank truly thrives when placed amongst deteriorating song structures.</p>
Blue Whale<span style="display:block;position:relative;padding-top:56.25%;" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="4a2300d9667687dcd6aa0ac190231b20"><iframe lazy-loadable="true" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/vinLW-uY53Q?rel=0" width="100%" height="auto" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" style="position:absolute;top:0;left:0;width:100%;height:100%;"></iframe></span><p>An early album outtake uploaded spontaneously, "Blue Whale" finds Frank full-on rapping and speaking frankly on his relationships and his poor adjustment to fame. "This life goes on man that's one thing about it," he says with defeat. He knows there's no escape from this lifestyle he chose. The beat, produced by Pharrell Williams, flows like a gentle body of water, and it's a shame the track didn't get a final album cut.</p>
Biking<span style="display:block;position:relative;padding-top:56.25%;" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="5730e5f548adc50d72a70eff8acd4afc"><iframe lazy-loadable="true" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/fYGPcfUqzL0?rel=0" width="100%" height="auto" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" style="position:absolute;top:0;left:0;width:100%;height:100%;"></iframe></span><p>With hard-hitting features from Jay-Z and Tyler, the Creator, it's a shame this 2017 loosie didn't get more attention. While the song's lo-fi vibe fits perfectly in Frank's world, Tyler, the Creator and Jay also sound right at home. Frank's buoyancy sounds optimistic, a refreshing departure from his signature slow-burn hums, and that's because Frank was hesitantly content at this point in his career. </p><p>"God gave you what you could handle," he calls out on the track's hook, his voice soaked in reverb; there doesn't seem to be anything he can't conquer on his own. It's a fleeting victory lap for someone as empathetic as Frank, and you know it won't be long before he's down in the dumps again. But the crooner tries to relish in this moment of satisfaction rather than question it this time around, and it's a welcomed change of pace.</p>
Crack Rock<span style="display:block;position:relative;padding-top:56.25%;" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="37ff7120dbd7b20bb5b389fbb251f8ec"><iframe lazy-loadable="true" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/IVzzw7Vkiyg?rel=0" width="100%" height="auto" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" style="position:absolute;top:0;left:0;width:100%;height:100%;"></iframe></span><p>Aided by bouncy drums and a breezy keyboard, Frank abandons his relationship commentary in favor of a deep reflection on drug addiction and the war on drugs. Here he croons with a breathy quip, a move he said was intentional in order to mimic <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/music/2012/jul/21/frank-ocean-guardian-exclusive-interview" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">how a "smoker would sing it."</a> The track's narrative remains powerful and transportive to this day.</p>
Skyline To<span style="display:block;position:relative;padding-top:56.25%;" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="8e85a2198e917f8808a6ecbf30582f29"><iframe lazy-loadable="true" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/CtkUJb22oSQ?rel=0" width="100%" height="auto" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" style="position:absolute;top:0;left:0;width:100%;height:100%;"></iframe></span><p>While almost every song on <em>Blonde</em> is by no means underappreciated, "Skyline To" finds Frank once again gliding freely in the clouds, nothing but improvisational guitars to push him along. The song's power is that it is merely a collection of ruminating thoughts Frank has had over the last few years, most of them soaked in bitter nostalgia. "It begins to blur, we get older," he cries. "Summer's not as long as it used to be." </p><p>"Skyline To" highlights what makes Frank such a compelling artist: his ability to take the mental struggles of the human experience and shape them into song.</p>
- The Singles Bar: Frank Ocean, "Thinking About You" - Popdust ›
- Big Boi Forcibly Reunites OutKast By Putting Himself On Frank ... ›
- Frank Ocean Teases New Music has Tumblr Hacked - Popdust ›
- Artists of the 2010s: Frank Ocean, Bon Iver, Mitski, and Kendrick Lamar ›
- Why Did Camp Flog Gnaw Want Frank Ocean Over Drake? - Popdust ›
Keith Raniere's pseudo-philosophy ranged from hedonism and nihilism to neurotic obsessions with weight, body hair, and training people out of empathy.
In 2006, when Allison Mack was a lead actress on CW's Smallville, she accepted an invitation from co-star Kristin Kreuk to attend a meeting for a "women's empowerment" group called NXIVM (pronounced nex-ee-um).
Over the following decade, the Albany-based organization became known as a cult that practiced sex slavery and branding under the guise of mentoring young women. Earlier this week, Mack pleaded guilty to charges of federal racketeering and sex trafficking for her senior role within the organization, which included recruiting women for "labor and services" under orders from Keith Raniere, NXIVM's leader and co-founder.
On October 28th 2020, Keith Raniere was sentenced to 120 years in prison for his involvement with NXIVM. Here's everything you need to know about the cult, and what led to Raniere's downfall.
- Beyond Charles Manson: Five Notorious Hollywood Cults - Popdust ›
- What Happened at Sarah Lawrence and Why You Keep Reading ... ›
- Twitter as Social Capital: You Are Not a "Personal Brand" - Popdust ›