Josh Brown was placed on the NFL's commissioner exempt list Friday after documents were made public that revealed the New York Giants kicker admitted to a history of abuse against women. Figures from around the league have reportedly expressed displeasure with the way the NFL handled the matter.
Citing sources, ESPN.com news services reported Saturday that owners, coaches, executives and players have all privately communicated frustration regarding the NFL's response.
According to ESPN, one owner referred to the situation as an "embarrassment."
Based on reports that have spilled out over the past few days, that appears to be a commonly held sentiment.
"One owner told B/R he believes that [John] Mara needs to apologize and that he believes Mara will," Bleacher Report's Mike Freeman wrote Friday regarding the Giants owner. "Some players speculated that the NFL's decision wasn't about race but about favoritism. They believe [Commissioner Roger] Goodell gave a Giants player a break because Goodell is close with Mara."
CBSSports.com's Jason La Canfora relayed similar feelings from high-ranking front office personnel Friday:
Executives from several other clubs have voiced their displeasure privately about how the Giants and the NFL handled this case, noting what they believe is a cozy relationship between the Giants and commissioner Roger Goodell and speculating as to whether Brown's small suspension was an indication of that. League officials dispute that notion strongly, and an NFL source was adamant that Goodell had no discussions with Giants officials about Brown's investigation while it was ongoing.
Brown was initially suspended for one game at the start of the season because of a 2015 domestic violence arrest in Washington, but that was the extent of league-sanctioned punishment.
Since then, information has poured out regarding Brown's apparent history of abuse against women and the Giants' knowledge of it.
According to the New York Post's Mark W. Sanchez, Brown confessed to "physically, emotionally and verbally" abusing his ex-wife, Molly Brown, in journal entries and court documents that were made public by the Kings County Sheriff's Office in Washington.
"I have been a liar for most of my life," Brown wrote. "I made selfish decisions to use and abuse women starting at the age of seven to fill this void. I objectified women and never really worried about the pain and hurt I caused them. My ability to connect emotionally to other people was zero. My empathy levels were zero."
During a radio appearance on WFAN on Oct. 20, Mara disclosed that Brown had told the Giants about his history of abuse.
"He admitted to us he'd abused his wife in the past," he said, via The MMQB's Albert Breer. "What's a little unclear is the extent of that."
On Sunday, Giants rookie Eli Apple's mother, Annie, spoke about domestic violence and Mara's response on SI.com:
Domestic violence is anything but domesticated. It's a brutal, savage attack on the body, soul and psyche of the victim. I don't know one woman who signed up to be the face of domestic violence. It's not something women like to talk about or relive. Reading about Molly Brown's nightmare, it grips you in a way I can’t ignore. Being beaten, assaulted and abused by the man you love is a horror no one should have to endure. But every day millions of women live this daily nightmare.
The comments made by John Mara, owner of the New York Giants, were insensitive, dismissive and callous. How are you a so-called champion of domestic violence but lack basic compassion for a victim? Yes, this man signs my son's checks as I've been reminded on Twitter. Mr. Mara owns the New York Giants. He doesn't own Annie Apple. Wrong is wrong. And Mr. Mara's comments were unapologetically wrong and hit at a raw place.
I am a domestic violence survivor.
Like Mara and the Giants, the NFL has also come under intense scrutiny for not addressing Brown's apparently abusive past in expedient fashion.
Citing a league source, SNY's Ralph Vacchiano reported on Oct. 20 that the league was aware of Brown's erratic behavior to some extent because Molly requested a room change at the 2016 Pro Bowl after the veteran kicker was pounding on her hotel-room door when he was allegedly drunk.
With Brown now on the exempt list, the league has said it will examine the new documents before ruling on any additional punishment.
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"The released materials appear to contain information regarding other incidents of abuse separate from the May 22, 2015, incident for which you were disciplined under the Personal Conduct Policy," NFL senior vice president of labor policy and league affairs Adolpho Birch wrote to Brown, per NFL.com. "As a result, further investigation by the league into those separate incidents is needed."