One of the teams with whom the Baltimore Orioles share the mid-Atlantic region is the NFL’s Washington Redskins. As a disclaimer, the Redskins are “my team.” My NFL team that is. I’m certainly pulling for the Ravens moving into the post-season, as I pull for them if they aren’t playing the Skins. But I digress.
The San Francisco 49ers cut linebacker Reuben Foster in November after he was charged with domestic violence. The Redskins submitted a waiver claim on him, and he’s now under contract in Washington. Foster was cleared of all charges yesterday. So in essence this was a good move by the Redskins, although the NFL could still suspend Foster for conduct detrimental to the league going into next season.
This column isn’t about Reuben Foster. But it is about how leagues handle player conduct off the field. We see discipline for off-field conduct in MLB much more often than we do in other sports. The other leagues are starting to follow suit now, and we’ve seen a crackdown on domestic violence in the NFL. The league has no want for players who beat women. And I support that.
But the idea of “conduct detrimental to the league” casts a very wide net. Domestic violence in and of itself is fairly cut-and-dry. Again, I support disciplinary action against someone in any league who beats women. That’a unequivocal. But what about someone like Foster? You know, someone who in essence is innocent. Are we now holding people accountable for even being charged with a crime?
I would simply say this; while not perfect, our criminal justice system is based on the pillar of innocent until proven guilty. So a guy who.’a ether found innocent of a crime or as in this case if charges are dropped – is that someone who should pay a price to the league? Would it not behoove the leagues to take their cues from the criminal justice system?
Before you come back with the fact that the number of false accusations made are few and far between (and that’s a fact), let me share something with you. I’ve been falsely accused of something in my life. It wasn’t anywhere near as serious as domestic violence; but it was still very damaging and it was 100% untrue.
So I suppose my stance on some of this stuff is that while I agree the number of false accusations are few and far between, I would wait for evidence beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law to convict someone. And if a player is convicted of a crime, it goes without saying that he should be held accountable by MLB (or whichever league he represents). However the next time a baseball player or any athlete is accused of something of this sort, maybe we should offer the benefit of the doubt before the entire story comes out in the public domain.