If you’re looking to marry into the NFL, two former wives of players have some advice for you: keep your mouth shut when he hits you. That’s not their playbook, it’s the one they were handed when they were put in abusive situations during their husbands’ playing days.
On Friday, The Washington Post ran a story that detailed the horrifying lives of two women who were married to New Orleans Saints players in a time period between the 1990s and present day. To highlight how tight of a grip abuse still has on them, only one woman was willing to use her name publicly.
Dewan Smith-Williams, who was married to New Orleans Saints player Wally Williams in the 1990s and 2000s, detailed her abuse and how then-head coach Jim Hasslet nudged her towards keeping her mouth shut. Smith-Williams notes that Hasslet told her that taking the fall for her husband was not a good idea, which years later caused her to silence herself about her husband’s illegal activities even after he took a baseball bat to their entire house.
The wife that wanted to remain nameless detailed an even more horrifying incident in which she was violently abused by her NFL husband only to have no one care. She notes that the police were called by the neighbors, who proceeded to joke with her husband and ask for autographs. But the most horrific and spine chilling details came in the days after.
After the incident occurred, the New Orleans Saints called the house to not so much offer assistance but to make sure she wasn’t going to go public with what happened. If that doesn’t paint a terrifying enough picture, the woman then noted that her husband refused to take her to the hospital and drove her around to make sure she told everyone that she had been in a car accident
This unnamed woman is still shackled in chains of an abusive relationship as her anonymity is on account of her abuser is still associated with the NFL in enough capacity that she is scared to say her name.
As if the NFL didn’t already have a big enough problem with abuse, this highlights just how deep the roots are. You can’t hear these stories and not feel sick. All of this happened over the last decade, which means the NFL needs to stop cowering behing the facade that abuse is a ‘societal problem’.
Abuse in the NFL being a societal problem is like saying obesity is a problem because gym memberships cost too much. There’s correlation but pretty transparent correlation. The NFL needs to stop hiding behind machismo and answer to what is very clearly a societal problem that the largest sports business in the world is enabling.