Jones’ statements prove ignorance is not bliss

Exploring the history of domestic violence in the Dallas Cowboys’ organization

It was difficult to avoid Greg Hardy and Jerry Jones in the news these past few weeks and the startling images and troubling words surrounding their story are “assaulting.”   

The attention stems from Greg Hardy allegedly assaulting his then girlfriend Nicole Holder. The assault, which is described in official court records, can be summarized as follows: On May 13, 2014, Hardy allegedly pulled Holder from bed and threw her into a bathtub before throwing her onto a rifle covered futon. Hardy ended the alleged assault by placing his hand around Holder’s throat and telling her he was going to kill her.

On Feb. 9, 2015, charges against Hardy where dropped when Holder failed to appear in court.

“Intimate partner violence is a serious public health issue,” said Dr. Jennifer Thomas, a Wilkes professor of women’s and gender studies, as well as a professor of psychology. “An astounding 1 in 3 women will experience intimate partner violence in her lifetime (National Intimate Partner and Sexual Violence Survey, 2010). And according to FBI statistics (which are conservative estimates), more women have been murdered by their boyfriends or husbands since 9/11 than all the Americans who have been killed in the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. 

“It is shameful that we put more resources into fighting terrorism abroad than ending domestic terrorism.” 

Although Hardy received a 10-game suspension from the NFL, his suspension was soon reduced to four games. During the free agency period, Hardy was signed by Jerry Jones, owner of the Dallas Cowboys. According to ESPN, Hardy will be paid $11.3 million this year.

The case took a more disturbing turn when photos of Holder’s injuries were released to the press this week. Hopefully, we all recognize that Hardy’s alleged actions are shameful and wrong; however what disturbs me just as much as Hardy’s publicized ills is Jerry Jones’ lack of action and his statement on the matter.

The statement released to the press in part reads: “We have given Greg a second chance.  He is a member of our team and someone who is grateful for the opportunity he has been given to move forward with his life and his career.”

I am all for second chances but Jones should not be considering himself a humanitarian for giving Hardy, someone who could currently be serving jail time, an $11.3 million dollar reward.

Should America really be surprised that Jones signed Hardy? No, in fact Jones is the owner of a team with several violent misfits. Jones historically doles out second chances. 

Adam Bernard “Pacman” Jones, who is now currently with the Cincinnati Bengals, was arrested in 2007 on charges he  punched and slammed a female Vegas stripper’s head against the stage. Then in 2008, Pacman was arrested in a second incident on charges he allegedly punched a female stripper. In 2008 Jerry Jones signed Pacman from the Tennessee Titans for a draft pick and a financial settlement.  Jones signed Pacman having full knowledge of his past accused behavior.

Dez Bryant a third member of Jones’ Cowboys was arrested on a domestic violence charge for allegedly punching his biological mother in 2012. Still with the team, Bryant received a five-year contract worth $70 million.

Is abuse — or alleged abuse — ignored if an athlete performs well on the field?   

A great performance will not only grant you a “second chance” but it will also wipe away your sins with a large contract. Dubbed “America’s Team,” the Cowboys are definitely symbolic of America’s response and inclination to intimate partner violence.

Again Thomas places Jones’ comments into perspective. Thomas states, “Jerry Jones’ comments are shameful.  We cannot expect violence against women to end if there are no negative consequences associated with the act.  The fact that violence against women is not taken seriously (as evidenced by the slap on the wrist Greg Hardy received and the insensitive comments of Jerry Jones) is a reflection of the value we place on women.”

“If women were valued more, rates of intimate partner violence would decrease, and severe punishments would be put in place to indicate this behavior will not be tolerated.  Also, because violence is associated with masculinity it should not be a surprise that in the hypermasculine world of sports, violence against women is a common occurrence that it is not taken seriously.”

In all this a familiar theme emerges: The victim has gotten lost, turned into a footnote or aside.

The only biographical information regarding Holder I could find was the first website of a Google search where “Hot Wives and Girlfriends of the NFL” were showcased.

As a business and financial leader, Jones should look to be a leader in other areas and recognize that abused and victimized women would also like to experience a second chance in order to move on with their lives.