For the second week in a row, Caliendo’s regular segment had to be scratched in walk of another horrific incident involving an NFL player. It was the right call. Given what happened, a light-hearted comedy bit definitely was out of place.
NFL Today obviously learned its lesson. A week after the CBS pregame show was grilled for failing to open with the murder-suicide in Kansas City, and sticking with a Victoria Secret segment, the program got it right Sunday.
James Brown led the panelists in a discussion of the recent events. Then he gave a pointed commentary:
This has been a harrowing eight days in the national football league. We’ve witnessed a series of events that have cast the harsh spotlight on a pair of major societal issues. Alcohol abuse, which yesterday as we’ve talked about, needlessly claimed the life of a young Dallas Cowboy player, and domestic violence. Women typically take the lead in cause-related efforts, so this is a call to us men for more of us to get off the sidelines and become meaningfully engaged in helping to change this ugly, painful situation. Right now, three women-per-day on average are being killed by their husbands or boyfriends. This means that since Kasandra Perkins’ death last Saturday, at least 21 more women have met the same fate. Respecting and valuing women would seem to be a no-brainer. But profane language in music, the locker room or anywhere else that degrades and devalues women can contribute to attitudes and beliefs that are destructive and potentially violent. A 2006 study demonstrated that with proper coaching and leadership, teenagers can successfully change their attitudes and behaviors towards women. So why can’t more of us grown men do that as well? Three more women will pay with their lives today, and they don’t have to. I certainly pray that we men are fed up enough or are hurt enough to want to do and say more about these critical issues. Because right now, the silence is deadly.
Meanwhile, the panelists weighed in on Countdown. Cris Carter, who has battled substance abuse, had an interesting perspective:
In the National Football League, they go to the max as far as the amount of money that they spend on the substance abuse program. I know this personally. I was involved in the program for my whole career, alright. I know the type of information. There are no excuses, alright. It comes down to decisions… Roger Goodell: There’s only one answer for all of this. The only thing the players now, the modern-day athlete understands is take him off the field.
Over at NBC, there was this exchange between Tony Dungy and Rodney Harrison:
Dungy: “As an NFL coach, you’re coaching very, very young men. So I would always talk at the first team meeting of the year. I would talk about decision making, about drugs and alcohol and parties, and late hours. You just constantly preach to them all year — make good decisions. Every Friday I used to tell our team after practice, be smart, get home early, don’t drink and drive. But you come in Saturday morning, and every coach says this, not just me, but you come in Saturday morning and you just hope everyone gets there.”
Harrison: “You coaches do a great job relaying that message each and every Friday. But at 25 years old, I’ll have to admit, I was a guy who went out. I partied on Friday. I had three or four drinks, and I got behind the wheel and drove home. Why? Because I thought I felt invincible. ‘Oh, nothing would happen to me.’ But the older I got I started gaining perspective. I started realizing what was important. Suddenly, I became that guy who would preach to the younger players about family, about career, and about the dangers of DUI.”
Dungy: “I couldn’t tell them not to go out, because I knew they were going out. But be smart. Come home at 12 o’clock. If you’re going to drink, use the vehicles, the car service, and be smart about it. But you just don’t know if they’re listening.”
Hopefully, people will listen. That’s why it is important to have these kinds of discussions in the wake of these tragedies.
Maybe other players will learn from these mistakes. It would be nice to see the pregame shows return to fun-and-games.