Reimer: Why did Redskins sign alleged domestic abuser Reuben Foster? Because NFL fans will keep watching

Alex Reimer
November 28, 2018 - 10:12 am

Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports

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We are told one of the beauties of America is that consumers can vote with their wallets. Well, the people have spoken time and time again when it comes to their feelings about the NFL’s laissez-faire attitude towards domestic violence: they don’t care. 

The Redskins’ decision to sign linebacker Reuben Foster just two days after his second arrest for domestic violence in one year is brazen. The organization is being pilloried from coast-to-coast, with even some sycophantic NFL nugget-traders taking some swings at the pinata. “Give me break,” ESPN’s Field Yates tweeted in reaction to the signing.

“How can the Redskins claim Foster? Bad look,” said CBS Sports’ Pete Prisco.

But recent history shows all of this outrage won’t lead to the Redskins suffering any damage to their bottom line whatsoever. They’re taking a beating now, but next year at this time, maybe Foster is back on the field and crushing defenseless wide receivers once again. The 49ers selected the Alabama standout with the No. 31 overall pick in the 2017 NFL Draft. The Redskins might have just picked up a young Pro Bowl-caliber linebacker on the cheap.

Owner Daniel Snyder’s seeming indifference to domestic violence is disgusting, but then again, one could say the same about signing unapologetic child abuser Adrian Peterson. The running back has made it apparent he didn’t partake in any self-reflection after he was indicted for beating his then-four-year-old in the groin with a tree branch. In a Bleacher Report profile published last week, Peterson said he still hits his children. 

"I had to discipline my son and spank him the other day with a belt," he said. “I didn’t let that change me.”

Though Peterson’s arrest was one of the bigger stories in the country four years ago, his admission didn’t generate much traction. More than 30.5 million people watched the Redskins play the Cowboys on Thanksgiving, making it the most-viewed regular season game in Fox’s history. 

Even when the NFL’s domestic violence crisis reached an apex in Fall 2014, viewership didn’t suffer. The 2014 campaign was the second most-watched season ever, accounting for 45 of the 50 most-watched TV shows. Women tuned into the NFL in record numbers, too. Female viewership was up five percent in the 18-49 year-old demo. 

The NFL paid no real price for its disastrous handling of the Ray Rice fiasco, unless you count sternly worded rants from Keith Olbermann and Katie Nolan. Remember, Ravens fans gave Rice a standing ovation when he arrived to training camp. But there was video of Rice’s assault, so he never worked again. Meanwhile, the Cowboys picked up Greg Hardy just two years after he was accused of beating his then-girlfriend within an inch of her life. 

Hardy, by the way, saw his domestic violence suspension reduced to just four games –– the same Tom Brady received for playing with deflated footballs. But that’s not surprising, either. The NFL has not adhered to its allegedly mandatory six-game baseline domestic violence and sexual assault suspension. Buccaneers quarterback Jameis Winston missed just three games for reportedly groping an Uber driver, former kicker Josh Brown was originally sidelined only one game for his domestic violence charge, and Washington linebacker Junior Galette was suspended two games for his role in a domestic violence incident. Hell, Jets wideout Quincy Enunwa was arrested for pulling a woman off his bed three days after the new policy was announced, and was handed a four-game ban. 

Brown is the only one of those players who lost his job, though Giants owner John Mara originally defended his decision to keep the abusive kicker on his team. 

The Redskins were the only NFL team to claim Foster, so they went further than anybody else in this case. But they’ve been on a stain on the league for years, starting with their name. And yet, Snyder owns the fifth-most valuable franchise in the NFL. 

Snyder won’t change, because he hasn’t suffered any repercussions for his amorality. The same can be said for the NFL, which continues to go backwards in its handling of domestic violence. 

And we are to blame. Ratings are up this season, after all. The Reuben Foster case probably won’t cross any of our minds, including mine, when the Patriots kick off Sunday. 

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