It's the domestic violence story that the Cleveland Browns want to shamelessly wish away: After getting dinner and drinks on Oct. 12, Johnny Manziel allegedly hit his girlfriend Colleen Crowley "a couple of times," pushed her head against a car window and grabbed her arm during a roadside dispute, according to her account in the police report. Police later found abrasions on Crowley's arm.
One would think that this would've sparked the end of Manziel in Cleveland. After hopelessly struggling through an unproductive rookie season, he was in rehab this past offseason, so a report of drinking violence mixed with drinking -- police smelled alcohol on Manziel's breath -- should've been the last strike.
Instead, the Browns, who've levied no punishments against Manziel, reportedly want him to break up with Crowley, according to CBS Sports writer Jason La Canfora.
There have been concerns about the sometimes turbulent nature of that relationship within the Browns hierarchy, sources said, and some have been hoping there would be separation for quite some time. Crowley is a college student who has been living with Manziel this season. Manziel was not disciplined by the team and has remained McCown's primary backup, dressing for games as he normally would.
The Browns would rather see a possible victim kicked to the curb than for their own quarterback to face his actions, accept punishment and receive treatment. It's an absurd request of cowardice on the Browns' part and underscores just how inept NFL teams can be when handling domestic violence reports.
Do they not know that, according to the Violence Research foundation, the rate of re-offense is up to 40 percent? Or that, according to the Domestic Violence Intervention Program, women are 70 times more likely to be killed by their abuser in the weeks following a separation? Simply wishing for Manziel to break up with Crowley is a naive, dangerous solution to a hard, complicated problem -- one that the Browns don't seem to be interested in working through.
Such is life for the former Heisman Trophy winner and 2014 first round pick.
For his part, Manziel has claimed that he didn't hit an intoxicated Crowley and only grabbed her arm so she wouldn't get out of the moving car. Almost immediately, the couple tried to quickly wash away the incident with "Nothing to see here!"-type social media posts, but the police report and dash cam footage of the police stop are damning.
In the dash cam footage, released on Oct. 19, Crowley sounds emotionally distressed and can be heard saying, "I’m in fear for my life.” Police have suspended the investigation without charges (Crowley didn't want to press charges herself) even though the police report was inconclusive on whether Manziel was trying to hurt Crowley.
The intent of these actions is unknown; whether it was to knowingly cause physical harm to her or if it was from Mr. Manziel trying to keep Ms. Crowley safe from exiting the vehicle.
As espnW notes, Crowley has since given conflicting statements on what happened, but that doesn't mean her initial report of violence isn't true. If anything, domestic violence experts believe that shoddy, potentially starstruck police work -- Manziel's story about saving her from a moving car had more weight than her claim of violence backed with physical evidence -- is at fault here.
"So it seems to me that this is another case of special treatment for football players. If he'd been a random African-American guy, he'd have been in jail," said Kim Gandy, president and CEO of the National Network to End Domestic Violence to espnW.
The NFL is reportedly investigating the incident. Lisa Friel, NFL special counsel for investigations, was in Cleveland for a meeting on the day the dash cam footage broke, but the NFL wouldn't confirm the purpose of her trip to HuffPost.
In the absence of any action from the Browns or local law enforcement, a Change.org petition was started to get Manziel benched while the NFL continues to investigate.
Cutting him outright would do, too.
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