The NFL needs a lot of help these days, which is sort of like saying Jameis Winston needs a full-time babysitter: It’s simply a fact of life.
So on that note, who better to ask for help than Dr. Phil McGraw?
“Here’s the thing,” McGraw began on The Doug Gottlieb Show. “People don’t talk about (domestic abuse and child abuse) a whole lot because there are just certain things you don’t talk about in polite society, as they say. But one in four women are the subject of some type of abuse or assault during their adult life, and it is probably the most underreported crime in America because people don’t come forward because they’re embarrassed. Who wants to talk about that?
“So the fact is,” Dr. Phil continued, “even with what’s reported, every minute in America, 24 people are harmed by an intimate partner. That’s 1,440 people an hour and 34,560 a day. Think about that. Now you get something like the Ray Rice situation, which gets a lot of attention, but I’ll tell you what: It happened (23) other times that minute. This is going on in America and it’s not going to stop until people pay a lot of attention to it.”
Well, we’re certainly paying attention to Ray Rice. Is it possible for him – and others – to be rehabilitated?
“I certainly think everybody has a chance,” Dr. Phil said. “I’m an incurable optimist, and I think everybody has a chance to change their course of events (and) change what they’re doing. But what you have to look at first is whether or not they own it. Are they making excuses for it? You would think that abusers would be kind of humble and say, ‘Gee, sorry’ and have their tail between their legs. But generally speaking, they’re kind of belligerent. It’s kind of like, ‘She made me do it. She provoked me. She knows what pushes my buttons. She knows to leave me alone when I get like that.’ They make excuses instead of (owning) it.
“I think the first thing you look at is (whether he’s) owning this,” Dr. Phil continued, “and saying, ‘There is never a time that it’s appropriate to put your hands on a woman in anger.’ If she was hitting him, run. You’re a running back. Turn your back and run. It’s not right for a woman to hit a man, but you know what? Get away. You just get away. There’s an imbalance of power there.”
Based on what Dr. Phil has heard, it appears Rice has owned it. He’s doing the right things. He’s getting professional help. He seems to be working at getting his life right.
“Is it rehabilitatable at a marriage level? Yes it is,” Dr. Phil said. “Is it rehabilitatable publicly and in the NFL? I guess we’ll have to see.”
Speaking of the public, how should we – the fans – view Rice, Greg Hardy, Adrian Peterson and Jonathan Dwyer? Are they simply saying all the right things so they can return to the field and make millions? Or is rehabilitation real?
“It can be real,” Dr. Phil said, “but you got to put your actions where your mouth is. Has he sustained a therapeutic relationship across months? This isn’t something you fix overnight. Is there an independent professional that is willing to step up and say, ‘Ray’s problems are under control. Impulse problems have been addressed’? Are the things that led up to this been addressed in a sustained way? And are they changing? If the answer to any of those is no, you have to say you’re not ready.
“I think this is a teachable moment in America,” Dr. Phil continued. “I really do. These are Sunday heroes. So many people look up to them – adults and children alike. This is an opportunity for the NFL to say, ‘We’re going to use this notoriety – we’re going to use this attention – and we’re going to make it real clear: This is a teachable moment, and what we want to teach is that this is not okay. It is not okay to put your hands on a woman in anger. It’s not okay to be violent in this way. We’re not just going to threaten our players. We’re going to give them the opportunity to get any kind of counseling (or) training that they need.
“Look, everybody’s looking at you right now. Do the right thing.”