The New York Giants have released kicker Josh Brown over his admitted abuse of his then-wife, in a case that has previously raised questions about the NFL's willingness to punish players who commit acts of domestic violence.
"We believed we did the right thing at every juncture in our relationship with Josh," team President John Mara said in a statement. "Our beliefs, our judgments and our decisions were misguided. We accept that responsibility."
This case dates to May 2015, when "Brown was arrested for assaulting his then-wife Molly at their home in Washington state. Brown wasn't charged," as NPR's Tom Goldman reported.
The NFL conducted its own investigation and ultimately suspended him for one game — the season opener this year, Tom says.
That was despite an NFL policy intended to get tougher on domestic abusers, announced by NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell following the Ray Rice scandal in 2014. It says domestic violence violations will be subject to a six-game suspension, though "mitigating factors" can be considered.
The team says it made its decision today in light of "new information." Washington state authorities released a trove of documents last Wednesday linked to the Brown domestic abuse case. According to the NFL, that includes a "signed document in which he admitted to physically, verbally and emotionally abusing" Molly Brown.
"I have controlled her by making her feel less human than me, and manipulated her with money," Brown said, as Tom reported. "I have constantly made her feel as if she is not good enough for me to hide my own insecurities and self hate."
The Giants initially responded to the documents by announcing that Brown would not travel to London for a game against the Los Angeles Rams on Oct. 23. The NFL had said Friday that it was placing him on the Commissioner Exempt List, which "temporarily places non-playing players from counting against a team's active list limit." He was still receiving a paycheck, as Slate reported.
Today, Brown said in a statement released by the team that he was "cooperating with the Giants and the NFL." He said, "In the coming days and weeks I plan on telling more of the pain I had caused and the measures taken to get help so I may be the voice of change and not a statistic."
In a slightly longer version of the statement released to ESPN, he denied ever striking Molly Brown, saying, "abuse takes many forms, and is not a gray area."
There are questions about what the NFL knew about the domestic abuse, and at what point, as Tom has reported. He says that Molly "declined to speak to league investigators and law enforcement officials declined requests from the NFL for information." The league claims that during its own investigation, it made "exhaustive attempts to obtain information in a timely fashion."
A spokesman for the King County Sheriff's Office tells Tom that it received a request for information about the case. However, that person "didn't initially identify himself as an investigator for the NFL" and the request was denied.
Mara, the team's co-owner, said last week on radio station WFAN New York that Brown "certainly admitted to us that he abused his wife in the past," Tom reported. And according to Slate, "the NFL could simply have looked at the divorce file, a publicly available document, which contained much of the same damning information as the newly released case file."