Ralph Vacchiano | Facebook | Twitter | Archive
There was a moment last August when John Mara was trying to defend his now indefensible decision to stick with Josh Brown when he seemed to understand his organization was losing its grip on its righteous reputation.
"This is an organization that always tries to do the right thing," he said. "I don't know if we always get it done, but we try."
Maybe that's true. But when it comes to Josh Brown they have gotten everything painfully wrong.
That became clear on Thursday when, faced with the easiest decision they'd ever have to make, they chose not to cut their 37-year-old kicker and instead punted their decision into next week. Even worse, Mara later went on WFAN and offered this absolutely shocking admission:
"He admitted to us he'd abused his wife in the past," Mara said.
It's really impossible to understand why the conversation -- along with Brown's career with the Giants -- didn't stop right there.
But it didn't. Mara added that "What's a little unclear is the extent of that (abuse)," even though the extent of domestic violence really shouldn't matter much. And that came shortly after a tone-deaf statement from the Giants that read, in part, "The Giants do not condone or excuse any form of domestic violence." That's great, but by keeping Brown employed they certainly appeared to be condoning or excusing it. And they even offered up a justification for not just letting him go.
"Josh has acknowledged that he has issues in his life and has been working on these issues through therapy and counseling for a long period of time," the statement read. "We remain supportive of Josh and his efforts."
That's nice that he's acknowledged his issues - though remember, he considered all those issues to be "Just a moment" when confronted with them publicly back in August. Regardless, why are the Giants still supporting him after its clear whatever efforts he's undertaken haven't worked.
Just look at what the Giants know - or at least what we know they know - about Brown's situation: He was arrested on a domestic violence charge in May, 2015. He got drunk and pounded on his wife's hotel room door at the Pro Bowl in January until NFL security was called and they were concerned enough that they moved his wife to a different room (as reported by SNY). He admitted to Mara that he abused his wife.
And now, thanks to the documents obtained by SNY on Wednesday - documents which since have been released by the King County (Wash.) Sherriff's Office to the NFL, and presumably the Giants - they know Brown admitted to physically, emotionally and verbally abusing his wife on multiple occasions.
What more does a reasonable person (or organization) need?
This was a gift for the Giants - an easy out to a long-running sideshow that included a sad litany of mistakes. They stumbled through this whole Brown affair from the start, tripping over step after step. The NFL has often turned into the Keystone Cops every time a domestic violence issue arises. The Giants appeared to be dutifully following their lead.
Consider how badly they blew it in the spring when they re-signed Brown a two-year, $4 million deal even though they knew he was under investigation and facing a suspension for domestic violence. They could've quietly walked away then and this circus wouldn't exist. Instead, they dared it to happen. They blew it again when they let Brown say his domestic violence history was "just a moment" and when they allowed new coach Ben McAdoo to say he supported Brown "as a man, as a father" just hours before a police report was released showing Brown's wife accused him of "more than 20" instances of abuse. They had to know it was inevitable, by the way, that those gory details would get out.
Then they blew it again when for a full week after that they arrogantly remained silent, refusing to explain their decision. McAdoo, Mara and GM Jerry Reese wouldn't talk about it during that stretch. (Reese, by the way, still hasn't talked about it). Mara later admitted that silence was a mistake.
And yet despite all that, they did again on Thursday when they went 24 hours without a sound from the franchise after the court documents were published. During that stretch they inexplicably let Brown practice, when they had to know there was no way they were taking him to London. Then they refused to make McAdoo, Mara or Reese available to the media at large, which forced their own players - like punter Brad Wing, running back Rashad Jennings, receiver Victor Cruz and cornerback Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie - to have to answer questions about a topic they likely didn't know nearly enough about. They hung them out to dry, as if they were the spokesmen for the franchise.
And it all could have been solved so neatly before anyone got to their practice facility on Thursday morning. Thanks to the media - not the Giants or NFL investigators, by the way - they were handed a written confession from Brown, who wrote in his own journals, as obtained by SNY on Wednesday, "I have abused my wife". The Giants and the NFL were blindsided by that new information, so they could've easily claimed Brown had hiding relevant facts and dismissed him for that.
With no fuss at all, they could've atoned for all their past sins, to an extent, by feigning ignorance, then doing the right thing and claiming "If we had only known …"
Instead, they delayed what surely seems to be inevitable. Brown will almost certainly never kick for the Giants again. Yet the Giants decided to take the weekend to consider their options. And they seemed to try to stand behind Brown at every turn. Mara, understandably, said he's "certainly disturbed by what I've read" but he also praised Brown for making "a good-faith effort" at rehabilitation and because "he's attempted to be honest with us."
Mara was not asked why the mere attempt at being honest was good enough.
Regardless of that, Mara almost certainly will end up doing the right thing, and if he doesn't there are indications that the NFL might step in to attempt to preserve whatever credibility its domestic violence policy has left. Brown will likely end up in the purgatory of the NFL commissioner's exempt list if the Giants don't come to their senses and cut him.
But the delay in that is inexplicable. What is there to think about? If the NFL and the Giants are really serious about taking a stand against domestic violence, how is it not enough that Mara said Brown "admitted to us he'd abused his wife."
There's nothing to think about after that statement. It's an easy call - about as easy as it ever gets in these situations.
That's why it's so impossible to understand why the Giants keep making this seem so hard.